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Sermons Preached by the Rev. Raymond Shaheen, P.P. 

Year: 1984 SERMON TITLE 

January 8 

January 15 

January 22 

January 29 

February 5 

February 12 

February 19 

February 26 

March 4 
/ji^Tsj:^'^'^ March 5 

/^rrsSTA'C'March 1 1 
March 18 
March 25 

"A Sermon On The Baptism 
OfOur Blessed Lord" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Samuel Johnson" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
William Gladstone" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Josephine Butler" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Allen Gardiner" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
George Fox" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Leo Tolstoy" 

Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Richard Baxter" 

"Something To Remember" 

Funeral Service for Hazel Mediary 

"JESUS ON JESUS" - A Lenten Series 
Who Are You Jesus? 

"The Only Way" 

"Jesus on Jesus: To Seek The Losf 

"Through An Open Door" 


Matthew 2:13-17 

Luke 12:48 

Psalm 17:8 

Luke 7:37 

Psalm 51:10 

John 8:12 

Matthew 6:33 

Luke 18:13 
Matthew 17:1-9 
John 14:6 

John 14:1-7 
Luke 15:1-32 
John 10:1-9 

pqX:Silf^<^ March 3 1 

April 1 

"The Funeral Meditation for 
Dora Freas Richardson: 

""Who Are You, Jesus: Bread of Life" 

Psalm 103:1-2 
John 6:35 

-^ 1984 Continued 

Year: 1984 

May 6 

May 13 

/>?Z5^w<s- May 20 

June 3 

June 10 
June 10 
June 17 

/tjX-S^t'^'^ June 24 

July 1 
July 15 
July 22 
July 29 
August 5 
August 12 
'^ August 19 


"Vine Covered Cottage By The Way" 

Continuance Of The Famous 
Persons Series 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Fyodor Dostoyevsky" 

"When Is A Home Christian?" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
John Woolman" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Thomas Carlyle" 

"A Day To Remember" (Confirmation) 

"The Set Of The Soul" 

"Favorite Texts Of Famous Persons: 
Blaise Pascal" 

"Favorite Texts of Famous Persons: 
Robert Fuller" 

"God Has No Number One" 

"A Hard Lesson" 

"About A Woman: Mary Magdalene" 

"The God Who Is Never Less Than God" 

"Glory! Halleluhah!" 

"To Pray Aright" 

"All Things - For Good?" 

John 15:1-8 

Luke 15:11-32 
Luke 2:41-52 

Revelations 21:1 

Romans 13:13-14 

Romans 8:28 
Acts 2:1-2 & 14 
Revelations 2:10 

Jeremiah 2:13 

Jeremiah 3 1 :3 
Deuteronomy 18:19 
Matthew 10:24-25 

Hosea 11:9 
Romans 8:22-24 
Romans 8:25-27 
Romans 8:28 

Year: 1984 
August 26 
September 9 
October 28 

November 1 8 
December 16 
December 23 
December 30 


Romans 8 

Matthew 15:21-22 


"With God's Love" 

"Nothing But The Facts" 

"Luther: A Man With The Book" 
Festival of the Reformation held 
By Lutheran Churches in the 
Washington Cathedral 

"Love Power 

'How To Live Meaningfully In The Meanwhile" Romans 13:11-12 
'Put On The Lord Jesus" 

'The Other Part Of The Christmas Story" 

Matthew 2: 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen _ 

The Baptism of Our Lord ____J anuarv 8, 1984 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Hear now that passage of Scripture upon which this sermon is based, the title: 
"A Sermon On The Baptism of Our Lord .... 

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan 
to be baptized by John. John would have pre- 
vented him, saying, I need to be baptized by 
you, and do you come to me? 

But Jesus answered him. Let it be so now, 
for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all 

And then he consented. And when Jesus was 
baptized, he went up immediately from the 
water; and behold, the heavens were opened and 
he saw the Spirit of God descending like a 
dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a vOice ^ 
from heaveii saying, This is my beloved son in 
whom I am well pleased . • . 

Preachers come under occasional ridicule. Sometimes it's fully justified. 
Other times it is totally unfair, to say the least. Here's an example of ridicule 
by some modern cynic: "The average preacher today spends far too much time answer- 
ing questions that no one is asking." For shame upon the cynic, the cynic who never 
bothers to concern himself as to the validity of the questions that aren't being 

Perchance that could be the role of the 20th-century pulpit here, to provide 
not only the correct answers, but also to see that the proper questions are being 
raised, and brought to people's attention. At the risk of some measure of ridicule, 
let me now attempt to answer a question which presumably very few, if any, of you 
has ever raised Why did Jesus ever leave home? 

It was a happy home. He was contented there. He was useful. He had a measure 
of responsibility. It wasn't that He was an irresponsible person. Today's Scrip- 
ture - - "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan . . " - - that means He left 


— are you aware of the fact that He had been home now 

for some 30 years of His life? 


— are you aware of the fact that this is the first specific 
reference in the Scriptures to the life of Jesus Christ from 
the time that Luke referred to Him in the second chapter, as 
a pre-teenager who went up to the temple with His parents, 
and presumably He was lost, and they found Him.... "and he 
went back home, and was subject to his parents. And Jesus 
increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and 
man . . " which is simply to suggest: He grew up ! 

And then after 18 years - - at 30 years of age - - He leaves home. You've never 

asked the question: Why should anyone leave home? 

Why did my father, of blessed memory, at 18 years of age leave the village 
in the hills beyond once-beautiful Beirut, to come at the turn of the century to 
America? ... I used to ask him that question. And he answered me; "There was 
something going on over here . . "....and he wanted to be part of it. 

Would you allow me to suggest that maybe that's why Jesus left Nazareth? — 
maybe that's why He left home, because something great and wonderful was going on 
beyond Nazareth, and He wanted to be part of it. 

Do you know what it was that was going on? - - a cousin of his, a great prea- 
cher, a revivalist, preaching up a storm — hellfire, brimstone, damnation - - they 
hadn't heard anything like that for centuries, in fact for 400 years , according to 
Scriptures, the voice of the prophet had been silenced. And now there comes this 
strange character, John the Baptist, from the wilderness - - preaching with the 
voice of a prophet. 

People became scared, they came under conviction. He said, "You've got to 
turn around, you've got to repent, you've got to be baptized!" And he was known 
as the Baptizer, this preacher of hellfire, brimstone, and damnation. 

Presumably Jesus had heard of this. He wanted to meet His cousin John. He 
wanted to see first-hand for Himself what was going on, and undoubtedly to give 
him a measure of comfort and encouragement. And that's no small thing! - to get 
from where you are to where you ought to be, to speak the encouraging word to some- 
body else, who's taking a stand that is Involved in the Movement of God - - ah! 
there you have it! It was this Movement for God abroad throughout the land, and 
Jesus wanted to be part of it. 

"... and when he came to John ..." You can read this in the passage of 


Scripture for yourself and meditate upon it earnestly - - He offered Himself as 
a candidate for baptism. And John, fully perceptive as he was, was taken by sur- 
prise - - "You want me to baptize ^jrou! I should be baptized by j^ou! - for 

your baptism is going to be far greater than my baptism of water." 

Now ask yourself this question — you ought to ask questions: 

~ Why shou ld Jes us want to be baptized, the sinless One ? 
...that's what we say of Him, and we believe it. John's baptism was for sinners, 
John's baptism was for people who said, "We're truly sorry for what we have done 
and we're caught up in the wickedness of the world and we assume a measure of res- 
ponsibility ... and we want to make it as a matter of record that we're ashamed 
of ourselves and we want new life .... and as a measure of that new life we're 
willing to be baptized and be submerged, even in the dirty water of the Jordan." 

Now ask yourself the question: Why did Jesus want to be baptized? He was with- 
out sin - - say it again and ever so often - - and the Church clings tenaciously to 
that. Would you allow me to suggest this for an answer? - - why did He come from 
Heaven above to earth at all? Why did He want to get soiled up with us? — a 

rather unsavory lot, really! because He wanted to identify with us. Who 

wants a Savior who is detached from the world? Who wants a God who can't come to 
us where we are? And so He gives us to understand He wants to identify with us, 
in our wickedness - - He becomes one-with-us. 

Two things: He becomes one-with-us, sinners though we may be; and. 

He becomes one-with-us in the noble thrust that's being let 
loose in the world, this tremendous movement toward God, 
there was a great revival, and He could not allow Himself 
to be detached from it. 

so Jesus leaves home, and becomes identified now with this great program, this 

great movement, this thrust for God. 

I think also, as I read between the lines, that all the while He was in Nazareth 
He was no less God. You must never forget that: all the while He was in Nazareth He 

was no less God 

...He was God as He was making yoke for oxen... 

...He was God as He was walking around ankle-deep in those 

wood shavings in the carpenter shop in Nazareth, of course 

He was .... 
...He was no less God before He preached His first sermon.... 
...He was no less GOdbefore He was baptized 


But all during these years, this time of preparation. He was moving toward 
that moment when the decision would be made in no uncertain way , as to who He 
was and what He was meant to do. And I suggest to you, in the life of every single 
leader who has been worth his salt, in the life of every single leader who has 
made a significant contribution to world history, I think it can be said: there 
has been that moment of awareness, that time of realization, as to Who I am, and 
What I am meant to do - - to see also that time of identification is something 
great and wonderful with something that's going on. 

When I list the number of great ones whose shadow has been cast benignly upon 
me, I think of that man that I met only briefly. He was a primate of the Church 
of Norway during World War II. I met him when I first went to 3?ope in 1947, not 
long after the war. We stood in the shadow of St. Lawrence Church, the first cath- 
edral to be built in northern Europe. He was Bishop Evird Berggrav(?) Why do I 
remember him? When the Nazis occupied Norway and they tried to get the Church of 
Norway under their control, to kowtow to them, and they gave all kinds of threats 
and intimidation. .. .and when they thought their ace card would be this, when they 
said to the primate, they said to Bishop Evird Berggrav, "If you will not adhere 
to what we ask of you, then we will imprison twelve of your bishops, and we ask 
now that you give us the list of the twelve - - sign their names immediately." 
...Berggrav took a piece of paper, wrote the names of eleven 
bishops of the Church of Norway, and then he wrote the first 
name at the head of the list - - it was the name of Evird ^JK 
Berggrav. . . . 
There does come a time when a person must take a stand, willingly to identify. 

And when Jesus did that, when He was baptized, the heavens opened, a dove 
descended, hovered over His head, a subjective spiritual experience. There's 
reason to believe that nobody else was aware of it except Jesus. And while it was 
happening, it became known to Him who He was , and what He was meant to do . And the 
voice from heaven said, "You are mine! You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well 
pleased. " 

For anyone who has ever made his mark there has been that sublime moment of 
vision. For anyone who has ever contributed significantly there has always been 
that time when the vision has been followed by faithful obedience. Ask yourself 
this question, for shame if you have never asked it! - - How could Jesus Christ 
have persevered as He did, completely and perfectly as God's Son, even to the 
cross and beyond? - - He never for a moment forgot who He was. And He never allowed 


Himself to go on without being sustained and strengthened by this conviction. 

No sermon should be preached If it can't be helpful to the person in the pew. 
No sermon should be preached if it can't be helpful to the man who Is preaching it. 
So the question has to be asked: In my baptism, have I become fully aware of who I 
am? Am I strengthened and sustained daily in the realization that I am a child of 
God ? — meant to do God ' s work - - meant to be caught up In God ' s movement ? 

I could become cjmical at my age, honestly I could. I preached a New Year's 
Eve sermon not so long ago based on the text: Is there anything new under the sun? 
At my age I could say fairly well, I've seen it all before! - - another year, just 
another series of trials and tribulations, problems and perplexities, disillusion- 
ment and despair, defeat and despondency - - I have seen it all before. Why am I 
more in love with life than I've ever been before? My baptism becomes Increasingly 
real to me - - exceedingly precious. Sure, I have feet of clay, sure I fumble and 
falter, and even when I try to be best, I blunder. But I'm still God's child, I do 
know Him! And I'd be less than grateful if I didn't thank you for reminding me, by 
your hope and your trust. 

John Oxenham once said, "Tb every man there openeth a way, and ways, and a way; 
and the high soul gropes the low highway, and the low soul gropes the low, and in 
between the rest drift to and fro. But to every man there openeth a highway and a 
low, and each man decides the way his soul shall go." 

....and the grand and glorious thing about deciding for the 
high way is because God is always there ahead of you, saying, 
"I have called you, I need you! "... and what is more precious 
than anything else: "I will never leave you, I will never forsake you." 
...this I most certainly believe. 

* * * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday After the Epiphan y January 22, 1984 


(Psalm 17:8) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

What would you do, if - - - ? Surely that question's been put to you on more 
than one occasion as someone tried to find out how you would react in a particular 
situation. What would you do, if . . . 

- - if you were 30 years of age, and having reached 30, you dis- 

covered that most of the people that you knew were already 
married, and had their family started well on their way, 
and you were not married? 

...not only that, what would you do if you had already asked 
two women to marry you, and you had been rejected twice? 
Well, you could do what William E Gladstone did, you could ask the third woman. 
In his case, she responded, and to all intents and purposes, it was one of the 
most wonderful things that ever happened to him, because she proved herself a 
worthy mate - - devout Cristian, a good mother for their eight children, and a 
companion as he charted his course in the political arena. 

What would you do, if . . . 

- - having gone away to college, you return home nobly intentioned, and 

you say to your family that you've made a decision, you want to 
become a Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you want to 
become a candidate for Holy Orders, to become a priest of the 

Anglican Curch only to discover that your family, to a person, 

are in total disagreement, and your father, whom you highly re- 
gard, is about to dissuade you, and to dissuade you successfully. 

What would you do, if . , . 

- - you were William Ewart Gladstone, and you came home from Oxford, only to 
discover that no one had any enthusiasm at all, but to the contrary, 
they talked you out of your noble intention to become a priest of 
the Church? 


Well, perhaps you might not find yourself in either of these situations, but 
William Gladstone did. Now how did he handle the second? He must have reasoned 
within himself, and very properly so . . . 

" I am a Christian, and I don't have to be a priest of the Church to 
demonstrate my Christian conviction. If I don't become a Minister of 
the Gospel, then I will apply the Gospel in my daily life" . . . and 

he went into the political arena 

He served Parliament for over 60 years. He was named Prime Minister on four dif- 
ferent occasions. Historians have agreed that of all the people who served England 
over a 200-year period, none excelled him in statesmanship, and none applied moral 
and spiritual principles in their daily life to the degree that he did. 

So what would you do, if, you were dissuaded from going into the ministry? 
You would be convinced, as though you should be, that one doesn't have to be or- 
dained, one doesn't have to wear the cloth, to serve one's Lord effectively and to 
serve one's Lord well. 

For shame upon us if we permit ourselves to believe that only the ordained and 
the set -apart do the work of the Lord. It was one of the things with which Martin 
Luther contended, and contended handsomely, in his day, when devout Roman Catholics 
believed that unless you became a priest or a nun, you did not do the Lord's work. 
And Martin Luther shook up a lot of people when he gave them to understand that even 
the shoe repairman, the cobbler who takes a pair of shoes and does his work honestly 
and well, performs a work as sacred in God's sight as the priest who stands with 
folded hands in prayer before the altar. 

In like manner. Archbishop William Temple in his day jolted people when pre- 
sumably he was addressing a number of folks who were allowing them to think that 
God placed a high value upon institutional religion, which undoubtedly He does, but 
not at the expense of other things. And when Archbishop William Temple was dealing 
with these people who were thinking that unless you did the Lord's work within the 
institutional church you were doing something of lesser value. And how did he jolt 
them? - - by that famous one-liner: "God has a lot of other things in which He's 
interested beside religion." Gladstone reajtoned, and reasoned well, "If I do 
not become a priest, then I will live as a priest! - and 
be faithful to my Lord in my day's work in the political 


We prize, here in Saint Luke Church, a number of things that are the work of 
one man's hands. Much that you see in front of you by way of re-furbishing touches 
that was done back in the 1960's, the late 60' s, the re-decoration of the chancel - 
all of the work in the Chapel of The Grateful Heart — was done by the master-mind 
of Ellwood Francis DeLong . . . . who in his impressionable years wanted very much to 
be a preacher. And then he said to himself, "Maybe I can't preach with words, so 
then I'll let my hands preach for me." One doesn't have to wear the cloth to do 
the Lord's work. 

As I walked out in the recessional at the 8:30 service this morning, in that 
4th or 5th pew to the left sat two of our newest, youngest staff members in Saint 
Luke, Alma Louise Hornung and Ginny Ann Smith. Neither wears the veil of the dea- 
coness, neither has been set aside, ordained as a pastor of the Church — we have 
more than 100 women now in the Lutheran Church in America who are serving as pas- 
tors . . . neither one has been set apart as members of holy orders. And yet I 
dare say to you, as I know something of the manner of and dedication and the nature 
of their work, no deaconess perchance would serve with greater devotion, and no 
pastor of the Church would go about her work with greater zeal than these two. 
...and I think quickly of our Nan Sheets, a missionary in India, 
going about her work with commitment , without benefit of holy orders. . . 
This is the lesson we learn from William Gladstone as he lost himself completely 
and gave himself earnestly to his Christian commitment in the world of politics. 

Now the third question: What would you do, if - - discovered that, for want Of a better term - - as a practicing 
Christian, or as one who practices your Christian faith in your day's 
work, you were not always appreciated, and sometimes your motives were 
questioned? - - and your deeds and acts misinterpreted? 

And what would you do, if - - 

...your fortunes waxed and waned? - and all the time you were permitting 
yourself to believe that you were doing the Lord's work? 

What would you do, if - - discovered, much to your dismay, that the Queen whom you served 
loyally was no longer supportive? - and with great difficulty controlled 
her emotions when you were in her presence, lest she give evidence of 
her dislike and show her disfavor? 

What would you do, if - - 

...because of your Christian commitment, because you were completely dedi- 
cated to doing the right thing in the sight of God, you were voted out of 



What would you do, if - - 

...on occasion you discovered that you had to change your mind? — as he 
did — once favoring the abolition of the income tax, and then while he 
was still in office, coming back and saying, "This is an unwise thing to 
do - - if we are going to win the Crimean War, then we've got to double 
the taxation . . . 

And what would you do, if - - 

...only a little while later you came back to your people and you said, 
"It's a mistake to wage this war any longer, and I encourage you to 
withdraw our troops." 

What would you do, if - - 

...politically speaking, you find favor in the eyes of people when you 
say, "We've got to be firm with the Russians" - - as he did in his day 
with a dispute over the Aghanistan border. .. .only to discover that the 
same electorate were taking you to task, because you were also saying, 
"We've got to cut down on our defense spending." - - - it's almost as 
current as yesterday, this morning, tomorrow. 

What would you do, if - - were trying earnestly to plot your course, and to apply your 
Christian commitment in your day's work, and it wasn't always being 
appreciated - - not even by the sovereign whom you wanted so much to 

What would you do, if - - 

...your own political party would turn against you and you found yourself 
not being trusted and respected by any segment of political parties? calls you a renegade, another distrusts you because you had a label 
ten years earlier that you don't carry now? And all because, no matter 
what the condition or circumstance would be, you were trying to apply 
at that time in that instance what you believed to be the Christian thing 
to do? 

For sixty years he was a member of Parliament . . . four times Prime Minister. His 

fortunes waxed and waned 

What would you do, if - - one in high office you were walking down the street - - not going to 
church, not going to the House of Commons . . . but you passed by a women 
of the street - - how would you apply your Christian commitment? 


It's one thing to mouth what you believe when you sometime sanctimoniously stand 
in the presence of people. But when the harlot's in the gutter, how do you respond? 
There was a marvelous consistency in that man's life. He and his wife agreed to- 
gether that they would support a rescue home, a shelter for women of the streets. 
And together they would go and visit these people and they would read Scripture to 
them, and they would pray with them, and they would do everyghing they could to 

persuade them to change their lives by the grace of God. 

This sermon is another in the series of "Favorite Texts of Famous Persons" . . . 
now the text that became a lodestar for this man's life. You need to understand, 
and to understand it well, that his life was permeated by Scripture. In his dia- 
ries he has recorded again and ever so often that at every significant point in 
his life it was a passage from Scripture that sustained him and nourished him. 
What do you suppose was the inscription hanging over his bed at Haywarden, where he 
lived as often as he could? - - 

" Keep me under the shadow of thy wings " 
...what do you suppose was the text that he wrote when Lady Battersley, -vho 
was a guest in his home, had an autograph book - - 

— do you remember those days of autograph books? 
there was something to be said for them. As a teen- 
ager I had one . . I've lost it long since, for shame, 
but I remember when as an impressionable teenager at 
Camp Nawakwa, Dr. Michael Hadlon Fisher's mate, Mrs. 
Fisher, wrote in my autograph book what I remember to 
this day and I hope to my dying day: "To thine own 
self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, 
thou canst not then be false to any man." 

...there's a great deal to be said for that time when we had autograph books, 
when some people shared with some measure of inspiration to which we could return 
again and again to fortify the soul.... 

...Lady Battersley said to Gladstone, "Won't you write in my book?" And 
he did. And what do you suppose he wrote? — without any hesitation, immediately 
he wrote in his own hand the 8th verse of the 17th Psalm: 

"Keep me as the apple of thine eye; hide me under the 
shadow of thy wings. " 
It's not among the most popular of the Psalms. I have been living with it very 
much for the last week. You will be shocked by it, your first reaction may be 


that It makes a mockery of midesty. To the man who wrote that Psalm, saying to God 
"Listen to me, God, I'm a good man!" - - to all intents and purposes that's what 

he's saying "I am a good man, I try to be good. In fact, God, I have been so 

good that if you were to search me, even in the darkness when nobody is around, 
and when I'm inclined to think thoughts that may not be right - - go ahead, God, 
try me, and you will be pleased with what you discover!" . . . imagine a person be- 
ing so intent on doing the right thing that he is permitting himself to believe that 
day in and day out he would not waver from his convictions. Gladstone was the kind 
of person who allowed himself to believe that if he was inclined to do a single thing 
that would not be pleasing in God's sight, he'd have done with it at once. Can you 
imagine someone with that integrity? Well, you get that kind of integrity only when 
you want to be that kind of person. And only when you were fully aware of the fact 
that Gd has His sheltering wing over you, protecting you: 

"Keep me as the apple of thine eye" 
is a fascinating expression. What is the apple of your eye? 

The apple of one's eye is that part of the eye in which the reflection of the 
other person is kept. It's also referred to as the pupil of the eye, when you look 
through the pupil you can look straight through to the optic nerve into the brain, 
as though you are going into the innermost part of the other person and your re- 
flection, your image, becomes part of that person. So this man William Gladstone, 
wanted to be kept inside God — that close to God! He wanted to identify with God 
that earnestly, so completely. Doesn't that mean anything to you? Don't you get 
a measure of encouragement from the fact that there has been a person who once lived, 
and not a preacher at that! - - who gave himself so earnestly to trying to practice 
what he preached, and to behave according to what he believed. Every now and then 
God raises up someone like that, to become our encouragement. It is possible. It 
does happen. 

He was ten years of age when Queen Victoria was born. A half -century later he 
became Prime Minister, the greatest honor that can fall to the lot of any English- 
man. But remember Gladstone for more than this, much more. Think of him as the 
fortunate one of whom his mother could write, to tell to a friend of hers with un- 
speakable thankfulness, that her boy had been truly converted to God - - a boy, 
mark you, ten years of age.... if you think that's impressive, listen to this: in his monumental 
"Life of Gladstone," his biographer. Lord Morley, wrote as he gives us "a sentence 
from the diaries that Gladstone kept." It was written when he was barely twenty- 
one years of age . . . 


"... in practice the great thing Is that the life of 
God may become the habit of my soul ... " 

And if you think that a marvelous thing, here's something even more grand: he lived 
for nearly 70 years after that, and remained faithful, unswerving, to that youthful 

The Bishop of St. drew's was his confidante and was with him as he was nearing 
death. The shop kept his own diary, and he said as he walked away, "It's as though 
I had been on the Mount of Transfiguration and had been ushered into the very pres- 
ence of God . . " - - writing not about a preacher, but a politician. . .a statesman.. 
...a Prime Minister - - whose earnest desire was that he might be kept as the apple 
of God's eye and sheltered under His wing. 

It was a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who said of Gladstone, 
"He wasn't a clergyman. I am. 

He was as fit for the cloth as I am unfit." 

He didn't always succeed. But he was faithful. 

We don't have to succeed. Bt we are judged by our faithfulness. 
This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fourth Sunday After Epiphan y January 29, 1984 


" JOSEPHINE BUTLER" (Luke 7:37) 

If you will permit, a very personal word at this moment. 

My gratitude is very great for the warmth of the words spoken by the person 
during the announcement period. He knows my heart as does none other pastor. 

My gratitude is very great for all those who stood here before me, inter- 
preting God's precious truth. I was privileged to know two of my three predeces- 
sors. One of them, the first pastor, was a year or two ahead of me in theological 
seminary, and my immediate predecessor was a year behind me. 

I'm also grateful for those who taught me to love the Good Book, for those 
who taught me in Sunday School. I'm grateful for the pastor that I had in my life — 
I had only one. He baptized me, he confirmed me, he stood with me when I was 
named as a Minister of Wotd'-'atid "Sacrament of the Lutheran Church. My heart is 

And you should know that in my personal devotions this morning, both at home 
and at a very early hour in the Chapel of The Gateful Heart, I thanked God for hav- 
ing made me a minister, and I thanked Him for the privilege He gave me to serve in 
Pennsylvania and then to serve here. And I hope you won't mind, in my prayer to 
God, as I thanked Him I also asked Him if I could stay on a little bit longer. 


And now the text, the 37th verse of the 7th chapter of the Gospel according to 

"And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner ..." 

No matter how you may wish or not wish to say it, usually, if not invariably, 
it comes out the same way - - there are two kinds of people — good, and bad. 

there are two kinds of men - - good, and bad.... 

there are two kinds of women - - good, and bad 

Now this morning I want to talk with you about women — both kinds of women — good, 
and bad, and to talk with you about them from the Christian perspective. 

First, I want to talk to you about a bad one. You may relax a bit, I shan't 
be specific, as you may at first blush be inclined to think that I will. I shall 
paint in broad lines - - you can handle the details as you deem necessary. 


How about this bad woman where did I learn about her? What can I tell 

you about her? Where is she written up? 

Well, she's written up in the Bible. We don't know too much about her, for- 
tunately, and I say fortunately because one ought never to concern himself with 
the sordid details of the evil that has made people bad. It's enough that we should 
know that they're bad. 

I don't know where she practiced the world's oldest profession, 

and I don't know all of the details. I don't know how she got trapped. 
I don't know whether she enjoyed it, or whether she detested it. I 

don't know what most people thought about her 1 know she was branded, 

I know she was a woman with a reputation she was a bad woman, written 

up in the Bible. 

The Scripture account of her makes it quite obvious. Everyone, m.ost any- 
one, that is, would have recognized her for what she was - either her 

looks, her speech, her manner of dress, or lack of it betrayed her. 

Her reputation had preceded her. To top it all off, she was a party- 
crasher. That, too, must be said about her. According to the Scriptural 
account, she wasn't on the guest list, but she showed up just the same. 

Now, let me narrate for you that Bible passage - I'll read it for you eventually, 
but let me give you the picture: Jesus was invited as a dinner guest. Now, it's im- 
portant that you should know that on this occasion He was invited. Sometimes He in- 
vited Himself. You'll remember readily that incident in Jericho when He looked up 
and saw a man up a tree, and He said, "Zacchaeus, you come on down because Vm going 

to your house and I'm going to have supper with you." and off they went. But 

this time Jesus was invited. 

He was invited by a man of some reputation, I suppose, so much so that we even 
know his name, it was Simon. Now why he invited Him I can't tell you exactly. It 
may have been because he had a habit of asking people to dinner who were recognized 
in the community with some standing, and Jesus had that. He was a traveling guru. 
He was a teacher, He was a prophet. And Simon perhaps knew a measure of satisfaction 
in being able to add Him to his guest list - - "Why, there was that man from Nazareth, 

well-known prophet, when he came to my town I had him for dinner " Or he may have 

been tremendously interested in Jesus and what He had to say. Maybe he wanted to learn 
first-hand as they sat at conversation. I'm not really certain, nor, I dare say, can 
you be certain. At any rate, Simon had Him for dinner. 


Now, you ought to know the kind of setting in which they found themselves - - 
vastly different from the kind of meal you're going to have today, and the environ- 
ment in which you'll find yourself. 

For those of us who have had the good fortune to travel in the Mid-East or even 
in India — sometimes you will find in India semblances of Bible life today which was 
much like Bible life in the time of Jesus. There are two strata in society — the 
very rich and the very poor - - the distinguished and the disadvantaged. 

Now, you can suppose that in Simon's case he was fortunate enough to have a 
house. And if you were fortunate to have a house, you probably had a court-yard, and 
in the area directly in front of the house was this open space where, in all likeli- 
hood, there was a garden of sorts and also a fountain. And when the weather was con- 
ducive, people ate in the outside area - which was available to people walking down 
the street — the have-nots — to find themselves naturally gravitating toward those 
who were having a meal. People who had sometimes knew a measure of satisfaction in 
vaunting in front of people that they had - what they didn'^t have. And they didn't 
much mind when they came in and ate, as the Scriptures have it, "the crumbs that fell 
from the master's table." 

And also, very easily, when people were walking by, if they saw who the guest 
was, and they recognized him as a distinguished teacher, they'd just walk in, and 
stand around, while others ate.... and they'd listen, because that's how they became 
enlightened, that's how they learned. They didn't have the media that you and I 
have today - - no newspaper, no radio, no television. And so it was an interesting 
thing for them to be able to catch up some pearls of wisdom from this teacher who 
came to their town. Now can you understand how it's the easiest thing in the world 
for this woman, this bad woman, this woman from the streets, to find herself as a 
party-crasher, so to speak. 

Now when she got there, she immediately went to Jesus Christ and behaved in a 
very unlikely manner. She lost control of her emotions. At the very sight of Jesus 
she began to cry and to shed copiously her tears, so much so that the Bible said, 

"She wet the feet of Jesus with her tears" and then she allowed the long tresses 

of her hair to become like a napkin or an apron, and she began to dry the feet of 

Now let me pause at this moment to tell you that if you were a guest in an Ori- 
ental home, there were three things that ought to take place, according to the book 
of etiquette in that day. One, you would be received by the host, who would greet 


you warmly, place his hand upon your shoulder, and give you the kiss of peace. I 
stem from Mid-East stock, as some of you may know, and I can remember how this kind 
of thing would happen in my home when my father would greet a guest.... 

...the second thing, your sandals would be removed, either by the host or by 
his servant, and then water would be poured upon one's feet, to cleanse them from 
the grime, the dust and the dirt of the dusty road that you took to get to the 
place. .. .there were no paved streets, as you know 

...and the third thing, a part of custom when you were a guest in the home, 
they sprinkled some sweet-smelling something — perfume, attar of roses, you name 
it — on the head or the forehead of the guest. All of those things would take 

You've got to remember that now because of the way this woman from the streets 
behaved in an unseemly manner. gn she saw Jesus she began to cry. e washed His 
feet, not with water, but with tears, and she had around her neck a vial of perfume's not too much to suggest that maybe one of her better 
customers gave it to her. She ripped it loose, poured the 

contents upon the feet of Jesus, which she had kissed 

...and all the while this was happening, poor old Simon-the-host was squirming, he 
couldn't quite make out what was going on, he couldn't believe what he was seeing. 
And Scripture has it that he said to himself, "Why, this man, he isn't as smart as 
I thought he was, maybe he isn't a prophet. His kind ought to know what kind she 
is! And if he did, he'd control the situation. He wouldn't let it go on!" 
And Jesus, sensing all of this, of course, takes Simon-his-host to task. 

Well, now that I've told you about it, let me read it for you from Scripture 

the way it appears. I prize, of course, the Bible that I read it as a youngster, 

the King James , but J. B. Phillips translation is a bit more real. Let me read it 

for you according to Phillips. Remember now, it's the 7th chapter of Luke, verses 

37 to 50 

"Then one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to a meal with him. 
When Jesus came into the house, he took his place at the table 
and a woman, known in the town as a bad woman, found out that 
Jesus was there and brought an alabaster flask of perfume and 
stood behind him crying, letting her tears fall on his feet and 
then drying them with her hair. Then she kissed them and anointed 
them with the pe rfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw 
this, he said to himself, 'If this man were really a prophet, he 
wou 1 d know who this woman is and what sort of a person is touching 
him. He would have realised that she is a bad woman.' Then Jesus 
spoke to him, 

'Simon,~there is something I want to say to you.' 

'Very well. Master,' he returned, 'say it.' 


' Once upon a time, there were two men In debt to the same money-lender . 

One owed him fifty pounds and the other five And since they were unable 

to pay, he generously cancelled both of their debts. Now, which one of 
them do you suppose will love him more?* 

'Well,' returned Simon, 'I suppose it will be the one who has been 
more generously treated. ' 

'Exactly,' replied Jesus, and then turning to the woman, he said to 
Simon , 

'You can see this woman? I came into your house but you provided no 
water to wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried 
them with her hair. There was no warmth in your greeting, but she, from the 
moment I came in, has not stopped covering my feet with kisses. You gave 
me no oil for my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. That is why I 
tell you, Simon, that her sins, many as they are, are forgiven; for she has 
shown me so much love. But the man who has little to be forgiven has only 
a little love to give. ' 

Then he said to her, 

'Your sins are forgiven.' 

And the men at table with him began to say to themselves, 

'And who is this man, who even forgives sins? ' 

But Jesus said to the woman, 

'It is your faith that has saved you. Go in peace. ' . . . " 

I told you I wanted to talk about women, and two kinds of women. That's the bad one, 
written up in the Bible. 

Now before I talk about the good woman in this sermon, we need to deal with 
this: How was it that she came to do this kind of thing for Jesus? A good question. 
I'm willing to suggest to you that she hearld about Jesus before. I'm willing to 
suggest to you that she had seen Jesus before. Where and how I don't know, any more 
than you do. But I don't think this thing happened just like that. Some time prior 
to this there had been an encount er . . . . and I'm willing to believe with all my soul , 
that when Jesus looked at her, and when He spoke to her, something happened in her 
life. Hear me and hear me well, let some people speak to me, and it draws out the 
better side of my nature. .. .and then there are some people, when they speak to me, 
it draws out the worst side of my nature. People can have that effect upon us.... 
Jesus had this kind of effect upon her - - He brought out the better side of her 

Others had spoken to her, others had looked on her, and brought out the worst 
side of her nature. Once she had been encountered by Jesus Christ, she could never 
again be satisfied with the kind of life she was living. Some of us can attest to 
the very same truth - - we have encountered people who have made a difference in 
our lives, who have constantly brought out the better part of us. 

What kind of effect do you have on people? Good question, honestly. Still as 


of old, you and I become according to the way either people love us, or refuse to 

love us. 

At 8:30 this morning, that precious band of high school youngsters who sang in 

the choir began their anthem something like this: "What kind of a man are you, 

Jesus?" this is the kind of person He was, who looked for that, as our Quaker 

friends say, who look for that which is of God in every person. 

I have told you this before, and in all likelihood I'll go on saying again and 

ever so often from time to time - - every saint has his past; and every sinner has 

his future and once Jesus Christ had spoken to her, she walked out into 

a brand new and different and wonderful world! 

I wish I could tell you that she never again succumbed. I can't 

tell you that. She may have fallen as soon as somebody else flashed 
a hundred-dollar bill in front of her - - I don't know 

But with all my soul I do believe that she never again really wanted to be the same. 

As the words remain ringing in her ears - - "Go - - your sins which are many, are 

forgiven. " 

Now I told you, about two kinds of women. 

The jood woman, where did I read about her? Surprisingly enough in this case, not 

in the Bible She has about six lines in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I read about 

her in a chapter in another book. Her name was Josephine Butler. you won't forget, of course, this is another in the series 

of sermons on "Favorite Texts of F amous Persons." 

Josephine Butler was an 18th Century social reformer in gland, of whom many a person 
had said, "Her life transformed all the people who ever met her" ... and a free 
translation would be, her lengthened shadow was cast benignly in many directions. 

You need to know several things about her: 

One - - she must have been an adorable person, who was a delight to know. She 
lived in the country area, somewhat removed from the city. She lived a rather shel- 
tered life, buc a good life. And she paid her parents a beautiful tribute: "What I 
learned about goodness I learned from my parents, by living with them." At a certain 
period in her life she suffered a spiritual depression, for an entire 12-month period, 
trying to f igurevoatrwhat-Sod: is really like, and what kind of a relationship she 
ought to have with God. It was extremely difficult for her. And then one day she 
came across this passage of Scripture, in which she discovered that just by allow- 
ing yourself to be encountered by Jesus Christ, you could walk out into a brand new 


world. And that was the moment of enlightenment. That's one thing you need to know 
about her, for this period of depression for a whole year, when she had this soul 
struggle, and then was encountered by the Christ in this passage of Scripture, who 
opened a new world for her. 

The next thing you need to know is, that about this same time — and listen to 
this very carefully, her only child, the apple of her eye, fell from the bannister, 
damaged her skull, and in a matter of days, died. Not long after that, as she sat 
by her window, meditating, deep in grief, she heard the bitter anguished cry of a 

woman in her own back yard it was a young woman who had run away from a traveling 

circus, who was involved in acrobatics.... 

.and the only innocent part of her life was when she 

was performing her acrobatics 

She didn't want that kind of life, and she ran away, and the circus people pursued 
her, even to her own back yard , . . and as Josephine Butler heard the cry of this 

woman crying, as much as to say, "I don't want to go back! I don't want to go 

back!" Josephine Butler, for 30 years from that moment on, having suffered 

the loss of her own daughter, gave her life to mothering the daughters of other 
women who had fallen. She ministered to the flotsam and the jetsom of womanhood. 

Two kinds of women. How will the bad ever become good, if there aren't people 
who look for the good in bad people? - - who keep saying to them: "There's 
another way! You don't have to go to Hell!" 
But how will some people find the way to Heaven unless people possessed by the Spirit 
of Christ touch them, speak to them, pay attention to them . . . ? 
this I most certainly believe. 

* * * * 
(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fifth Sunday After The Epiphany February 5, 1984 


(Psalm 51:10) 

GOD, We spend so little time in 
doing this sort of thing, in giving 
some measure of undivided attention 
to studying of Your Word. That we 
may do it the better, cleanse us now 
from sin, make us fit to think Your 
thoughts; in the name of Jesus 
Christ, Who when He came, came 
preaching. Amen. 

Let me read now as carefully as I can what I hope you will listen to as earn- 
estly as you should, the beginning sentences for this sermon: 

Today's sermon is another in the general series dealing with the 
specific Bible passages that dominated or motivated certain peo- 
ple in particular. You will please notice at once the definite 
relationship between Scriptural truth and individual lives. The 
general series is entitled: "Favorite Texts of Famous Persons " 
the definite relationship between Scriptural truth and indi- 

Now this statement is simply to suggest that no study of Scripture in the 
Christian perspective is an end in itself. Mark it well and say it often, we dare 
not become fascinated by a particular method or technique when it comes to the 
study of Scriptures, so that the method obliviates the message. By the same token, 
we need to say to one another that no matter how much we may master the contents of 
the Scriptures, unless the material covered masters us , we may have studied in vain. 

Or let me put it for you in still another way, paraphrasing Luther a bit: 

"Lest the Christ of Scriptures become the Lord of 
my life, I have little or no advantage over the 
person who has never studied the Bible." 

Today's text that commands our attention is really from one of the best-known 
Psalms which we will be studying as best we can with some detail tomorrow during 
the Bible Study sessions. In a certain sense, it could be designated as every-man's 
text, since it readily applies to all of us, each of us. Let me read it for you now, 
the tenth verse of Psalm 51: 


"Create in me a clean heart. God. " 

Now don't forget, we'll come back to it shortly. 

Now, quite parenthetically, let me ask you a question: Have you looked at an 
eleven-year old youngster lately, have you come upon an eleven-year-old youngster 
quietly, unannounced, to find the person sitting and doing nothing but Just think- 
ing? It's hard to tell what's going through the mind of an eleven-year-old young- 

I've re-lived such experiences in my own life as the father of our two boys 

and the grandfather of two other boys an eleven-year-old sitting and thinking. 

It does happen. And you can't always tell what's going through their minds. 

In the case of Allen Gardner, whose favorite text we're going to deal with to- 
day, there was no question what was going through his mind. He had a hero, and he 
was thinking of his hero. His hero was a man of the sea, the famous man of the sea. 
Lord Nelson, no less, the great chap of Trafalgar. 

There was something in Allen Gardner's veins that made him want to go to sea. 
He was eleven when the great victory over Napoleon guaranteed the deliverance of 
England. Three years later - - I have every reason to believe the wheels were 
working in the mind of an eleven-year-old - - three years later he enlisted in the 
navy, and off he went. Little did he realize that when he enlisted in the navy — 
in those days , he was signing up for a school of immorality. Anything and every- 
thing that shouldn't happen, morally speaking, was on his agenda. 

He had been away at sea for a year. And then he got — we used to get them — 
some of us remember them — a letter edged in black, announcing the death of someone. 
He got that letter edged in black, bringing the news that his mother had died. He 
experienced trauma in this regard, he was shocked. He re-lived the day he left home, 
in a fit of impatience. He happened to think of her influence upon his life and what 
he had known as a youngster back home. And then it occurred to him - - she was dead! 
...and something terrible happened - - he cut lose from all that she had taught him, 
and for ten years he lived a wicked life. You name it - - he'd tasted it! and he 
wasn't about to turn his back on it. He writes regretfully the kind of life he had 
lived for a decade. 

And then something happened. He got two more letters, one letter from his father. 
It was a letter of rebuke, reproach. His father had learned of the kind of life he 
was living and he simply puts it on the line, "I can't believe that you have become 
this kind of person what! — is this the youngster with whom I walked, and 


scaled the hill behind our house? Is this the lad with whom I prayed when together 
we went to the altar of the Lord? Is this the lad with whom I prayed when we had 
table grace and table prayers at our home? Is this the kind of person you've be- 
come? ..." and he laid it on the line, rebuking his son and re-proving him 

for the evil and the error of his ways. 

Now he got another letter, and this letter was from a friend of his mother's, 
an intimate associate. And she, too, had learned what had happened to him, and 
she wrote. She wrote wisely, she wrote wlnsomely. She gave him to understand he 
wasn't meant to be that kind of person, she gave him to understand that he did not 
stem from that kind of stock. And then, would you believe it, she went on to preach 
to him, she quoted Scripture. She introduced him to this Psalm, Psalm No. 51, which 
is the Psalm of the penitent. There is no Psalm of all the penitential Psalms that 
strikes to the depth as this one does. 

then she zeroed in for all that she was worth and she said, 

"Your heart is not pure, Allen, you need a clean heart. And only 
God can give you a clean heart verse 10, Psalm 51: 

' Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a 
right spirit within me. ' ..." 

By this time you ought to be aware of the fact that we use these words every,' 
time we come together here in Saint Luke. You will be singing them before the serv- 
ice is concluded. For shame upon you if those words come so easily to your lips, 
and thoughtlessly so. The lady who wrote that letter told Allen, "You either have 
a clean heart, or you don't have a clean heart." 

Now, let's stop at that point for a moment. I'm fully aware of the fact that 
this is a line of thinking that some people don't care to hear. They shy away from 
any study of Scriptures that forces them to recognize that the Bible doesn't much 
deal with gray zones. We may. But the Bible doesn't. For whatever may be the rea- 
son, if only to jolt us into reality, the Bible is always drawing the line: 

— Heaven . . . Hell. There is no justification for the teaching 

of Purgatory in the Scriptures. 
Heaven . . . Hell. The line is drawn. 
According to the Scriptures — don't quarrel with me — it's Scriptural truth: 

— saved . . . unsaved . A line is drawn, according to the Scitiptures. 

— a pure heart . . . or an impure heart : the line is drawn. 

And that dear old lady had to tell Allen Gardner that, the boy that went off to sea, 
and lived a wicked life. . ."Allen, your heart isn't clean it is impure. . .no matter 


how insignificant it may occur to you that a speck of dust or dirt may be, once it 
appears you don't have a completely clean situation. It is no longer completely 
clean." ... so she wrote Allen Gardner. 

Now, I need to say this to you as carefully as I can: God be praised, she 
spoke the truth, winsomely, and in love. Some people can speak the truth, but they 
cannot speak it winsomely. It's an awesome thing to be able to speak the truth in 


some people speak it so harshly that you're alienated from the 

message . . . some people shy away from speaking the truth as pro- 
foundly as it could be spoken, and then sugar-coat it and make it so 
soft that the truth itself then doesn't make its impact.... 

But this little old lady kept speaking the truth — forcefully, and with love. And 

she got her point across. 

Allen Gardner began to think. He couldn't think how long it was since he had 

read the Bible and he didn't have a Bible. Now let me tell you how difficult 

it is for some people to get back on the straight and narrow path 

. he wanted a Bible. The only place to get a Bible was to 

go to the book store and buy one. And he stood outside the book 
store embarrassed to go in and buy a Bible - - he wasn't that kind 
of a person - - he hadn't been that kind of a person. 

...and he waited until one customer went in, another 
customer came out, until the store was empty of customers... 
...and he went in very quickly for a Boble — grabbed it, left. And 
then spent an hour, according to his own admission, before he read it, 
wondering what the man thought of hLs buying a Bible . . . 
That's how far he had gotten away! 

Has anything that you've ever written in a letter spelled out the difference 
between life and death, spiritually speaking, to another person? David Thoreau 
used to shake preachers up by asking the question: "Did you preachers ever really 
say anything that made a difference?" I shudder sometimes when I walk away from 
this sacred desk lest, for some of you, I didn't say anything. 

Marcella Steesy, who is here, remembers this very well because she knew Edna 
Cassady. Edna was married to Mike, who was quite a character, and you need to 
hear this - we're a family. Mike never got around to joining the church. He was 
about 80 years of age when he decided that maybe it was the thing to do. It wasn't 
that he didn't practice some kind of commitment to his faith, but he never publicly 


stood up and declared it. I'm sure Edna had badgered him across the years, and 
bless his soul, out of respect for her, he wanted to make arrangements to be bap- 
tized and confirmed. So he wrote me a letter, and in that letter he said, "This is 
my decision, and I'd like to surprise Edna, so don't you call me on the phone, be- 
cause she always listens in on the conversation - - don't you call me on the phone. 
But be careful what you say, let me know that you got my letter, and then we'll set 
up a time when I can come to see you." . . . 

- - now get this, when Mike got the letter, and I did what I could to veil 
what he wanted to hear ... he came to me and he said with a great deal of 
appreciation, "Pastor, I got your letter - and you didn't say a thing!" 

I wish I could have taken Mike Cassady to our theological seminary at Gettys- 
burg and asked him to speak to those neophyte preachers, to make certain that when 
you're given the chance to communicate the Gospel you do say something . 

That woman who wrote Allen Gardner did say something, and she said it well! 
There's no question about it. And I want you to know, with whatever years God gives 
me, for which I am profoundly grateful, I hope that what I say from this sacred desk 
and what I may be able to say to you, no matter where you may find me, I may be 
faithful to the Gospel.... 

"Create in me a clean heart, God — only you can make me clean." 

You and I have a way of asking God for many things. Most of the things for 
which we ask God really aren't that important, honestly now. Said the little old 
lady who wrote Allen Gardner, "In the time of death, Allen, you either are, or you 

Augustine, the great Church Father, used to pray, "Save me, God, but not 
tonight!" That's the way it is with many of us. We want a clean heart - - but not 
that clean, at least not right now. 

One of my favorite Psalms remains: "Search me, God, and know my heart; try 
me and know my way. And if there be any evil way in me, lead me in the way ever- 
lasting ..." Only God can do it . . . only God can do it. much do you want it done? 

A * * A 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

% ':•■ •' 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The S^ixth _S^today^^te r_gie_^pl2lL4gy . February 12 ^ 1984 

(John 8: 12) 

BY THE influence of the Holy Spirit, 
Gd, quiet our minds, hush our 
hearts, make us fit to think Your 
thoughts; in the Name of Jesus Christ, 
Who when He came, came preaching. 


First, the text, the 12th verse of the 8th chapter of the Gospel according to 

". . . Again Jesus spoke to them, saying. I am the light of 
the world. Who follows me win_ riot walk in darkness , 
but will_ have_jthe_ lj .ght of lif e . . ..." 

Anyone who says anything or does something can anticipate two possible reactions: 
~ either people will pay attention, or they will not pay attention. 
And of those who pay attention, there are two possible categories that cannot be ig- 

— let a person say something, let a person do something, and when people 

pay attention, they will either agree, or they will differ they will 

either support, or they may defy. 
Having said that, let's go back to this text. It's an interesting chapter in 
the life of our Blessed Lord. Why He ever allowed Himself to be found in the situa- 
tion I'm about to describe for you, for the life of me I can't quite tell. 

He said something. He said something absolutely sublime, and with His whole 
heart, and with full confidence He said what He said. He spoke as no one else had 
ever spoken, and He spoke for their edification and for their encouragement. But 
having said what He did, there were those who differed with Him violently, and even- 
tually they became a shouting, shoving match. The net result was: He had to dodge 
the stones that were hurled at Him, He had to conceal Himself from their sight, and 
to find an escape route from the very House of God. 

Very earnestly He said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever walks by me and 
follows me, he won't walk in darkness - - he will walk in the light, the light of 
life." .... and then a bunch of Pharisees came, among other people... 
...they called Him a liar, they put Him on the defensive 


Why He ever allowed Himself to have that happen I don't quite know because 

eventually, as you read this chapter . . . 

...I've been living with it — very earnestly, every single day 
of this week, particularly in anticipation of standing among you 
now . . . because you have to say, as you read the last verse of 

the chapter, it was apparently a no-win situation He didn't 

convince them 

He had spoken the truth, they went their way, still wondering why they couldn't 
kill Him. He went His way, smarting, presumably, at their remarks. But thank God 
that He was able to dodge the stones, and live to preach and teach another day. 

"1 am the light of the world," He said "Take me at my word — prove me! Test me! 

Find out for yourself! Walk according to the truth that I've shared with you — be 
to other people as I^ have been to you." 

There are many ways of giving people the benediction. Occasionally here in Saint 
Luke Church, and particularly on Wednesdays when we celebrate the Sacrament of the 
Altar at mid-day. We may say to our people — "Go now - - walk in love and truth, 
so that no matter where you may be found, love and truth will be there." Try it! 
Test it! 

Now going back to Jesus. Why did you argue with them, Jesus? Why did 
you allow them to put you on the defensive? It was a no-win situation then. From 
my human perspective I think I have the answer — that we might benefit from what 
He had to experience, that we might learn that the truth of His words stands on 
their own. And we are in duty bound to respond to light as it's being shed our way. 

Interestingly enough, these very same words that turned those people off, 
and repelled them, were the words that drew the man of whom I am about to speak to 
Jesus Christ. Some people have a way of responding to the light. Some people have 
a way of shying away from it, defying it, ignoring it. Some people seek the light, 

they want to know the truth other people don't want to know the truth. There is 

something perversive about human nature in trying to put people on the defensive, 
and that's exactly what happened in the life of our Blessed Lord. Remember what I 
told you: some people are drawn by it . . . other people could be repelled by it. 

You're not forgetting, are you, that this sermon is another in the series of 
"Favorite Texts of Famous Persons. " And now I must talk to you about George Fox, 
the man who was drawn to Jesus Christ, and the precious truth of the Gospel, by — 
of all the verses in the Bible, this one specifically, George Fox. 

Let me be . . .or rather, you be charitable with me — I'm about to hazard an 


opinion that maybe some 85% of you are hearing about George Fox with some degree of 
emphasis today for the first time. But he is someone who ought not to be ignored. 
He made a tremendous contribution to religious and political life. Oh, we'll grant 
you he lived some 300 years ago. He was born in 1624, no one even knows for sure 

what day in July it was. At 18 years of age he was repairing shoes and then it 

occurred to him, that it was very far from a satisfying experience. He had a hunger 
down deep in his soul to know about God, and the truth of God. So one day he said, 
"That's it!" . . . and walked away from the cobbler's bench forever. 

He three himself at the mercy of other people. I'm not so sure that you would 
have responded very kindly to him — he was very much the eccentric... 

- - do you know where he bedded down at night? 

- like as not, in the hollow of an apple tree 

- - in season, do you know what was usually his daily fare? - what he ate? 

- wild berries, and the fruits of a tree. 

Not to be dependent upon people, clever chap that he was, remembering his days 
at the cobbler's bench, he said, "I'll make me a suit that will last!" - - and he 
was known as the Man-With-The-Leather-Breeches . " - - He made a leather suit , and wore 
it year after year after year . . . and lived a very simple life. 

He wandered around from place to place, he went to church. The very formal wor- 
ship services of the church in his day did not speak to him. He listened to sermons: 
none spoke to him as my old professor in seminary used to say, - "Let every sermon 

speak to your edification" ... no sermon built him up, no sermon inspired him 

. . .he went to Cambridge 
. . .he went to Oxford 

...he talked with men preparing for the ministry, he engaged 
them in conversation, they made light of him.... 

. . . one so much as to say, "Go off and find yourself a woman, get married and for- 
get about all this business" . . . another encouraged him to go back and take up his 
shoe-repairman ' s trade . 

But George Fox honestly believed that a person was meant to have peace. He 
honestly believed that he could be at peace with other people, he could be at peace 
with God. Where would he find it? 

Do I have to convince you that there are those of us who come to this sacred 
desk and struggle earnestly, and pray with fervor that when they stand among you. 


their voice should be as no uncertain trumpet - - that any time anyone should come 
here there should be no misunderstanding at all regarding the nature of the God 
whom we love, and whom we're meant to serve - - no misunderstanding at all about 
the claim of Jesus Christ upon our souls. That was not true in George Fox's day, 
sad to relate. He had to go outside the established church to find his peace with 
God, in a way in which he could walk that would make him at peace with his fellow 

He allowed himself this absolutely marvelous notion , with which some of us 
haven't dealt enough - - he allowed himself this marvelous notion: that God did not 
finish speaking when He wrote the last verse of the Book of the Revelation. He 
permitted himself to honestly believe that God goes on speaking, revealing Himself 
directly to anyone who looks for the light . 

He kept a journal. He wasn't an intellectual - - people faulted him for that. 
He did not place a high value upon academic education, and yet significantly enough 
— listen to this! — here in the United States: Erlon College, Haverford, Swarth- 
more, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, John Hopkins - - were all founded either by groups of 
Quakers or by Quaker Individuals. He honestly believed that if a person would 
just quiet his mind, without benefit of formal training, and hush his heart, get 
his soul to be stilled - - - God would speak to him in the very same way that God 
spoke to people long, long ago. 

And why not? Why should we allow ourselves to believe that God's lips were 

sealed and made silent when the last book in the Bible was written? Why should we 

allow ourselves to believe that God doesn't have anything to say to you and to me 

personally — today — as He did to Andrew, and Simon Peter, and Judas Iscariot, 

and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Mary, and Martha ... in days gone by? This 

is the way he wrote in his journal: he's talking, now, about what he was looking 

for: peace, peace of soul - - oneness with God, and a high regard for other people. 

"These things I did not see by the help of man, nor by letter . . " 

(and there he is referring to the Scriptures, 
I am sorry to say) 

"... though they are written in the letter. But I saw them 

in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by His immediate 

spirit and powers, as did the holy men of God, by whom the 

Holy Scriptures were written. ..." 

Ask yourself what he's saying. He's saying, "As it happened then and there, in cen- 
turies gone by, it's happening now. And if I have to go outside the Church to find 


it . . " Isn't that an unpleasant thought, isn't that an uncomfortable thought? 

Do you realize how earnestly some of us commit ourselves to our calling? — 
that no one should ever come to a place such as this and not be able to recognize 
the truth of God — spoken in love and with conviction. But in the day of George 
Fox that wasn't happening, and he was pretty much on his own. God be praised. He's 
forever mindful of His own, and seeker after truth is never disappointed. And God 
did reveal Himself to George Fox. 

George Fox founded the Society of Friends, he founded the Quakers. For 300 
years they have had a marvelous influence in many parts of the world. And if you 
think all they did was sit and fold their hands and remain quiet, you are mistaken. 
They were the leaders in one social reform after another — in England and in the 
United States. 

You see, the trouble with those people who rejected Jesus Christ when He said, 
"I am the light of the world" was because they believed that they had to intellec- 
tualize what He was saying. Now don't get me wrong, I place a high value on the 
intellectual, and I firmly believe that what we preach and teach ought to be intel- 
ligible and respected by the intellectual. But you and I come into some difficulty 
when we simply settle in all too easily on intellectualizing. 

...those people in Jesus' day were trying to intellectualize God , 
they were trying to intellectualize what God was saying when the 
lips of Jesus Christ were parted and certain words were spoken, 
and they couldn't quite figure it out, and it didn't make sense 
to them . . . and because it didn't make sense to them they 

did not accept it don't you dare misunderstand me. Our Lord said, "Thou 
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy 
soul, with all thy mind .."... and I hope and pray that 
whatever preaching is delivered from this desk will command 
your respect intellectually. But you don't stop at that point, 
and you don't come simply to be intellectually satisfied 

I don't know that it will ever be possible for us, from an intellectual point 
of view, to ever perfectly and completely understand everything that God has said. 
At some risk I stand before you now! Any number of you might not be able to under- 
stand what I'm trying to say, wrestle as I may with my mind and with my heart and 


with my soul before I even come to this sacred desk, lest anyone misunderstand, mis- 
interpret. In the day of Jesus, the people who gave Jesus a rough time, and who 
threw stones at him, were deliberately defying Him because they could not intellec- 
tualize what He was saying. 

Why do I make much of this? George Fox comes along and admits to himself that 
he can't possibly intellectualize it and completely understand it. But in the spirit 
of Kierkegaard, he says, "The ultimate is not to understand . . " 

— that is to say, the most wonderful thing is not to be able 
to understand completely - - 

" . . the ultimate is to act upon it." 
And that;s exactly what George Fox did. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" 
....and he acted upon it. He took those words seriously and began to do something 
about it. He didn't much worry about how he could apprehend the full meaning of 
the words, but he did live the words, and prove them, in the crucible of life itself. 
And so he began walking in the light of the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He walked 
where Jesus walked. And what happened? The Quakers more than any people I know — 
say it sublimely and practice it exceedingly well - - they look for that which is 
of God in every person. That's what it is to walk in the light of Jesus Christ. 
He sheds light on every human soul. Jesus Christ looks upon every single one of us 
as an object of His love. Jesus Christ looks upon every single one of us as a poten- 
tial for good. George Fox acted upon that. 

... I will be traveling with our Saint Luke band of pilgrims 
to the Holy Land this week — I'll re-live so many of their 
steps. There is no place in all of God's earth to which I 
would sooner return again and often than the Holy Land... and 
I think out of the Holy Land comes the devout Arab concern 
for even the tiniest scrap of paper — the devout Arab will 
not discard the tiniest scrap of paper because he says, no 
matter how small it may be, the name of God, the name of Allan, 
can still be written on it" ... to see people through the 
lens of God, through the light of love, is to honestly believe 
that no person, no matter how insignificant, that person is 
still someone on whom the name of God is written.... 
— thank our Quakers for that . 

They didn't always understand George Fox. They threw him in jail at least 
eight times in twenty years. And it wasn't until England passed the Toleration Act 


that they gave any kind of respect to his teachings and to his groups. George Fox 
and the Quakers, begins to see the light in your face, and in m^ face. He acts 
upon that, he looks for that which is of God in every person. 

And the second thing the Quakers have done for us — more than any other group, 
they value silence. Being made quiet, taking Scriptural truth at its words: "Be 
still and know that I am God." - - - "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call 
upon Him while He is near . . " - - make the climate that provides the environment 
so God can be heard. 

I think if necessity dictated it, I could be a Quaker, even 

though I love to sing and hear you sing . . 

- - and I place a high value upon the kergyma, the proclamation 
of the Gospel, there's the time when God's Word has to be inter- 
preted. . . . 

- - and music remains a very important ingredient in our worship 
experience, I don't have to tell you that, where I stand on that 
ground. .. .when I went to my first parish, the very first 

staff member that I asked that the congregation 
consider retaining was a choirmaster and organist 
...and when I came to you 28 years ago, the very 
first staff member that I asked this congregation 
to add was a choirmaster and an organist... 
All these things I cherish, but I also know, with all the 
clamor and the confusion, and no matter how we may use other 
things to encourage you to think the thoughts of God, there 
comes the time when we must be made very, very quiet . . . 

My debt is very great to my predecessors here at Saint Luke. Long before I 
came to you, they wove into the spiritual, the religious life, the worship life 
of this parish the period of quiet before the service begins, and the period of 
quiet at the end of the service "Be still and know that I am God. " 

....Quakers do that, more than any people I know. Can I describe 
for you very quickly a Quaker service as I remember it? You gather 
together, and for some 45 minutes you remain quiet. No stained- 
glass windows, as much as I appreciate them.... 

— no organ, as much as I believe it to be the mightiest 

instrument of praise known to the mind of man.... 

— no altar, as much as I believe a focal point to be necessary.... 


...but a room as plain as plain can be, people are quieted 
and hushed by the Spirit, for a significant amount of time, 

— and then perchance someone speaks, and all people present 
permit themselves to believe that God, the Spirit, has chosen 
that person in particular to speak to them through his voice 
and their voice 

I sometimes say to myself, we ought to provide this kind of an opportunity for 
the people of this parish, maybe at Vespers sometimes, on a Sunday of each month we 
could follow a pattern of worship as experienced in other denominations - - one Sun- 
day we'd worship the way the Presbyterians do, another Sunday night at Vespers we'd 
follow the order for the Church of Christ, or the Methodists, or the Episcopalians, 
or the Roman Catholic order, or the Greek Orthodox order. And I most certainly 
would covet for us a time when we might follow the pattern of the Quakers. George 
Fox discovered that light does not shout. Like a candle with its flame burning, it 

doesn't say, "Pay attention to me." it simply glows. You light a candle sometime 

in a darkened room and discover the transforming quality, just by a candle doing 
what it's meant to do — to glow, and we find ourselves being transformed. 

George Fox, bless his soul — the ultimate is not perhaps in being able to 
fully understand what God says. The ultimate comes in acting 
upon it - - - believing Him trusting Him. 

- - Walk, then, in love and in truth, so that no 
matter where you may be found, love and truth 
will be there. This I most certainly believe. . . 

(This sermon transcribed as 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Seventh Sunday After Epiphany February 19, 1 984 

LEO TOLSTOY^ (Matthew 6:33) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

First, let me read you the passage of Scripture upon which this sermon is 

based -- the words of Jesus Christ, recorded as a part of the 6th chapter of the 

Gospel according to Matthew, 

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your 
life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, 
nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is life 
not more than food and the body more than clothing? 

Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor 
gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds 
them. Are you not of more value than they? And which 
of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span 
of life? ~ 

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the 
lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, yet 
I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not ar- 
rayed like one of these! 

But if God so clothes the grass of the field which 
today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, 
will He not much more clothe you, men of little 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying what shall we eat, 
or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For 
the Gentiles seek all these things, and your Heavenly 
Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his 
Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things 
shall be yours as well." 

Everything that you're going to hear as far as this morning's sermon is concerned, 
is inspired by this particular passage of Scripture. 

I'm absolutely convinced that there are two kinds of people - - we're always 
doing this sort of thing, dividing people into two categories: 

-- those who take the teachings of Jesus Christ very, 

very seriously; 
-- and those who upon hearing them, do not take them 
seriously enough. 


There was a person to took this passage of Scripture with the utmost of seri- 
ousness, and it changed his life - - so much so that he became the greatest novelist, 
some people say, of all time! And undoubtedly Leo Tolstoy has written one of the 
two or three greatest novels in all of the literature of the world. Leo Tolstoy 
took that verse of Scripture seriously. 

Now in about 18 minutes this sermon is going to conclude. Let me tell you how 
it's going to conclude right now. I'm going to read for you, very carefully and 
earnestly, about something that Leo Tolstoy wrote. He has a powerful tale of a young 
Russian who fell heir to his father's small farm. He was no sooner in possession of 
this land until he began to dream eagerly of how he could add to it. One morning a 
stranger, evidently a person of power and authority, came to him and told him, as 
they were standing near the old homestead, that he could have, for nothing, all the 
land that he could walk over in one day ... but at sun-down he must be back at the 
very place from which he started. Pointing to the grave of the young man's father, 
the stranger said, "This is the point to which you must return." 

The youth, looking eagerly over the rich fields in the distance, threw off his 
coat, and without waiting to say a word to his wife and children, started off across 

the fields . . . 

-- his first plan was to cover a tract of ground six miles square, 
but when he had walked the sixth, he decided to make it nine, and 
then twelve ... and then fifteen -- which would give him sixty miles 
to walk before sun-down . . . 

-- by noon he had covered two sides of the square, or 30 miles. But 
eager to get on and compass the whole distance, he did not stop for 
food ... an hour later he saw an old man drinking at a spring, but 
in his thirst for the land, he pushed aside the cup which the old 
man offered to him, and rushed on in his eager quest for the land . . . 
...when he was a few miles from the goal he was worn down with fatigue. A few hun- 
dred yards from the line he saw the sun approaching the horizon, and knew that he 
had but a few minutes left. Hurrying on and ready to faint, he summoned all of his 
energies for his last effort and managed to stagger across the line just as the sun 
was sinking . . . but as he crossed the line he saw a cruel, cynical smile on the 
face of the stranger who had promised him the land. The man, the stranger, was wait- 
ing for him with that cruel cynical smile upon his face, as he stood by the father's 
grave. Just as he crossed the line, the master and possessor, he thought, of fifteen 
square miles of rich land, the youth fell dead upon the ground which he had coveted. 


The stranger then said to the servants, "I offered him all the land that he 
could cover - - now you see what that is! — six feet long by two feet wide -- and 
I thought he would like to have the land close to his father's grave rather than 
to have it anywhere else." . . . and with that the stranger, who was Death, vanished 
saying as he did so, "I've kept my pledge." 

It takes a bit of doing to write like that. Something must have gripped a man's 
soul to be able to be as perceptive of life as all that. Some transformation must 
have taken place, so that a person could read life in those terms. And that's exact- 
ly what had happened. Leo Tolstoy was not always that perceptive. He was born into 
a rather comfortable estate. But very early in life he became a seeking, searching 
soul. Very early in life he began to think deeply. 

Now I need to tell you this, but not all people think, and not all people think 
deeply. The year in which I was ordained as a pastor of the United Lutheran Church 
in America the Chief Pastor and Bishop of our souls at that time. Dr. Frederick 
Knubel , sharp mind, dry wit, used to say — "Take time to think -- you have little 

Of all those who take time to think, few really think deeply. Tolstoy was one 
of the few who thought deeply. His whole life, it can be said, was involved in the 
thinking, searching process. He took nothing for granted. He painstakingly examined 
all that the philosopher proposed . . . who was it who wrote of him -- "In his daring 
search he knocked at the door of Heaven and rattled at the very gates of Hell. He 
scaled the heights and sounded the depths - - nothing was too exalted, and nothing 
was too depraved for his inquiring mind. It was the story of his life. Happily, 
the search led him to the Scriptures, and there he found the only satisfying answer 
to his big question: What is the aim of human life? Why do I live? 

Tolstoy crystal ized his thinking and put it into these words: 

"The personal good of the individual man, or even of 
the family or of the state, cannot be the ultimate 
aim of life. The meaning of human life does not con- 
sist in each man's acquiring his personal and short- 
lived good at the expense of another. The meaning 
of your life can only be the fulfillment of His will 
who, for the attainment of His ends, has sent you 
into thi s 1 ife . . . ." 

You need to know this about Tolstoy, the man in whose soul the Scripture became 
alive. He wrote a number of things. He also wrote his CONFESSIONS -- a confession 
that was good for his soul and for ours. Said he, "I remember that in my 12th year 
a boy -- by now long since dead, a pupil in the Gymnasium, spent a Sunday with us 


and brought us the news of the last discovery in the Gymnasium -- namely, that there 
was no God and that all that we were taught on that subject was a pure invention. 
How interested we were! We all eagerly accept the theory as something particularly 
attractive, and possibly quite true." ... So Tolstoy lost God, if one may use 
that figure of speech. But those who knew Tolstoy said the loss was not very great, 
for up until that time he said he believed in God - - which was simply his way of 
saying "I would not deny the existence of God." But in what God he so languidly be- 
1 ieved, Tolstoy could not have said. And so for years he drifted - - much as a ship 
without a compass, without a chart. 

I am reluctant to tell you this, but you need to hear it 

- - He did live a despicable life for a certain period, in his 

eagerness to find what life is all about. Hear Tolstoy now on Tolstoy: 

"... I cannot recall these years 

(referring now to those years when he was drifting, 
living without a commitment to God) 

... I cannot recall these years without horror 

and disgust - - I killed men in war 

- - I challenged others to duels in order to 

kill them 

- - I squandered money at cards 

- - I ill-treated my parents 

- - I rioted with loose women, I deceived men 
- - - ly ing. .. robbery ... .adul tery. . .forn icat ion, 
drunkedness ... .violence. .. .murder - - - there was no crime 
that 1 left uncommitted - - 

And yet I was considered by my equals as a comparatively moral 
person " 

It wasn't until he was 50 years of age -- married for some fifteen years, with 
13 children in that period of time, that in all of his searching he was gripped by 
the passage of Scripture that was read a short while ago, and that one verse in 
particular - - "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all 
these things shall be yours as well." 

It is absolutely amazing what happens when somebody takes Jesus Christ seri- 
ously. For shame upon Tolstoy, one may say, that roughly speaking, two-thirds of 
his life should have been spent, with only a third of his years remaining by which 
to live according to this convict ion. ... that one should put off so long being 


gripped by what is fundamentally true! 

You know that I have spent my life and my energy ever since God made me a pastor, 
interpreting God's Word. And while I try to remain a keen student of the human scene, 
for the life of me I can't understand why people are so slow in accepting the funda- 
mental truths of God, because 1 ife i tsel f has a way of driving us to our knees - - 
life itself has a way of proving the integrity of Scriptural truth. At 50 years of 
age Tolstoy found it, and his life was never again the same. What he believed now 
is being reflected in what he wrote. He became completely didactic and moral in all 
that he wrote. He subscribed tenaciously to the doctrine that love is the way to 
live. It needs to be said, he lost faith in governments, he lost faith in institu- 
tions. For him the only hope for the world was in a transformed individual. He 
believed the destiny was in the hands of those who came to grips with what God had 
proclaimed - - - and in their own individual way applied these truths -- where they 
lived, in the lives they touched. 

He renounced personal property. He had little patience with the institutional 
church, he said it had fai led him. He also allowed himself to believe that he 
should live a simple life. He made his own boots, his own shoes, tilled his own 
garden, grew his own food . . . even wore the clothing, in the latter years of his 
life, of a peasant. For it was the peasant whose fervent faith had made real to him 
the precious truths of Jesus Christ. 

You need to know the whole story. He almost drove his wife mad, of course, al- 
lowing her to worry about things that were so important for bringing up the children, 
and caring for all the mundane things that had to be dealt with. In the latter part 
of his life he gathered enough courage to say, "I'm going to live this life as Jesus 
announced with complete abandon . . . and he convinced one of his daughters to go 
with him, and also his personal physician. And the three of them went off, hope- 
fully to live completely and earnestly according to the admonition, the directive of 
Jesus Christ. Within three days he was stricken with pneumonia and died at an out- 
of-way rail station somewhere in Russia. But his legacy remains -- pricking the 
conscience of every single one of us. 

Oh, his wife was smart. She arranged for the copyrights in the latter part of 
his writing period to be signed over to her, knowing the kind of person he was going 
to become, so that she might be protected. But to all intents and purposes, every- 
body pays the price in order that somebody else might live wholeheartedly according 
to the convictions of Jesus Christ . . . and to all intents and purposes everybody 
pays the price when someone doesn' t take Jesus Christ seriously. 


We all pay a price when there are those who want to move in the direction of 
Heaven ... and we all pay a price when there are those who move in the direction 
of Hell. Bluntly put, you pay your money, you take your choices! -- you either 
say "Bravo!" to a person like Tolstoy, whose lengthened shadow is cast benignly 
upon every single one of us, pricking our minds to the day we die 

-- How much land does a person really need? 
Tolstoy's immortal story is simply saying it again and ever so often - there are 
no pockets in a shroud. 

Interesting, isn't it? - - Saint Luke pilgrims go hal f-a-worl d-away just to 
walk in the footsteps of a penniless preacher, whose words are echoed from this 
pulpit Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. 

Fifty years of age . . . Tolstoy saw the light 

Fifty years of age, the light that he had seen -- outside the church! 

— that's threatening, it's intimidating, it's uncomfortable... 
Why do we grab? ... why do we shove? ... why do we push on for only one thing? 
- to accumulate, to take pride in what we can grab! - and tuck away! 

That Penniless Preacher one day said, "This night thy soul shall be 
required of thee — then whose will these things be?" 

Jesus said it first. Tolstoy picked it up. 

Some of us can never again be the same, once we've read 
his echo of the words of Jesus Christ. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

Th e Eighth Sunday After the Epiphany , Februar y 26, 1984 

Richard Baxter (Luke 18:13) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

This now Is the passage of Scripture that we will want to keep In mind as the 
sermon unfolds, recorded as the 18th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, be- 
ginning with the 9th verse: 

"Two men went up Into the temple to pray; the one 
a Pharisee, and the other a publican ! "^ 

The Phar isee stood and prayed thus with himself, 
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men "are7 ~ 
extortioner s, unjust, adulterers, or even as this' 
publican. ~ ~~ 

I fast tw ice In the week, I give tithes of all 
that I possess, 

And the publican, standing afar off, would not 
lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote 
upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a 
slnnerT ~ ' ~~ ~ 

I tell you, th is man went down to his house justi- 
fied rather than the other; for every one that 
exalteth him self shall be abased; and he that hum - 
bleth himself shall be exalted ..." 

Interesting, Isn't It, how on certain occasions something hits you right between 
the eyes that you should have known all along, and then you're able to articulate 
It, and you say — "That's exactly It!" 

I've had difficulty In my ministry trying to understand why people could dislike 
Jesus Christ. Don't misunderstand me. I've had a love affair with Him ever since my 
Sunday School teacheis first taught me about Him. I respond to people who are kind, 
I respond to people who are good. I crave responding to people who show themselves 
kindly disposed toward me and who love me. And I have always believed that that was 
the kind of a person Jesus is. And I'm always grateful for people who can make God 
real to me - - and that I understood Jesus was meant to do... 

and I could never quite understand why eventually they 

did Him in in the end .... 
And then the other day it hit me right between the eyes! You know what? - He was 
always drawing a line! Sometimes I think He was the greatest line-drawer In history 
. . . always drawing a line. 


He did that, you know 

— He talked about sheep — (draw a line) — goats . 

— He talked about Heaven — (draw a line) — He talked about Hell . 

— He talked about the lost — 

and then a line was drawn, as He talked about the found . 

— He talked about the saved — and the unsaved 

(and what is that but drawing a line?) 
Really now, and knowing human nature as I do, they have an appreciation for lines if 
they can either do the drawing of a line, or if the line is to their benefit. 

When Winifred and I come back from the hills-of-home, you have no idea how happy 
we are to see those lines coming off Route 270 into 495 — we appreciate those lines 
of demarcation . .. .and we fervently pray that people should stay where they're meant 
to stay as far as that line is concerned. But when it comes to drawing lines, between 
Heaven and Hell. . .between light and darkness. .. .between good and evil — sometimes 
there's something in us that doesn't like the drawing of a line (with apologies to 
Robert Frost, of course). 

Frankly speaking, you see, in this whole business of goodness and evil, some of 
us sometimes wish that line were not there — because we thoroughly enjoy being bad, 
a little bit bad, you know — maybe not real bad. But there is that line, you know. 
And then on the other hand, some of us enjoy being good - but maybe not real good.... 
...but there is that line. 

Before I came to you, serving in Messiah's Church in South Williamsport, we had 
a number of grand and good people, of course we did. One of them was Louise Wilhelmina 
Niemeyer — I suppose she was 70, 75, 80 years of age, a maiden lady. And one day I 
found myself saying to her, "Be good, Louise." - - and she said, "I should say not! — 
I'd be too lonesome!" see, the crowd out there is having a whale-of-a-time, 
in being just a little bit bad — thoroughly enjoying it! 
That;s why we don't like that line — that's so sharp! One side good 

. . the other side bad . 

I'm inclined to believe that this is the trouble, as I observe the human scene. 
We want to erase the line, we want to pretend it isn't there! And we want to thorough- 
ly enjoy drifting in various shades of gray. 

But we need those lines, we need them. We may never be as good as we ought to be, 
but we need to be reminded of the goodness that we need to espouse. And Jesus was 


laying it on the line by drawing the line. 

I should tell you that in the passage of Scripture that I read for you. He was 

drawing the line again. And you can understand that better when I tell you that I 

didn't read that whole passage of Scripture, I neglected to read the introductory 

sentence. And the introductory sentence reads like this: 

"... And he spoke this parable unto certain who 
trusted in themselves that they were righteous, 
and despised others . . . " 

...there He was, drawing the line again! People who thought they were good / and 

they drew a line and looked down their nose at other people.... 

" . . Two men went up into the temple to pray; the 
one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 
God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, 
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this 

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all 
that I possess. 

And the publican, standing afar off, would not 
lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote 
upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a 
sinner. . . " 

Jesus was drawing lines, a sharp line in this case. 

And whether you realize it or not, you and I are always drawing lines. Brace 

yourself, whether you realize it or not, some of us have been drawing lines ever 

since we sat down in this place. I have to put it to you — right up front — people 

come to church for different reasons. What's yours? 

....that's a personal question, you say. And you're 

absolutely right, and just because it is personal it 

needs to be taken seriously. If you don't mind, I'm 

going to deal with that when I finish speaking this morning 

Some people come to church to tell God how good He is 

— all kinds of laudatory things are said. And if saying, speaking, that is, were 

not enough, somewhat to us inadequate, if you please, we loudly sing, or softly 

chant, what amounts to exclamation . . . the kind of thing we've already done in 

this service, in what our music ministry has provided us, enthusiastically. And 

then to top it all off — you may not have thought of this — we get instruments 

into the picture — the organ as an example, the mightiest instrument of praise 

known to the human mind, is used where? primarily in churches, and cathedrals, and 

synagogues. Where will you inevitably find the organ? Primarily in temples of 

praise. And when we come to church we praise God for any number of things, and all 


because of who He is and what He does. That's why some of us come to church, 
and it's not a bad reason . . . it's a good reason. . . . . 

Now get ready for this one — you're not expecting this one: 
Some people come to church to tell God that His track record needs improving. He 
should up-date His activity a bit 

— God, according to their needs or pressing predicament, hasn't been doing as 
much as they think He's done in the past, nor even as much as they think He's 
capable of doing in the present moment. And they show up in church on a given 
Sunday, they bring such matters to His attention. This could be true — there 
are some of you here today just because you said, "God, I have this problem, 
and I want it resolved now ! You can do it, but I don't see much activity on 
your part, God. You've produced before — why are you dragging your feet this 

. . . .people who come to church in this manner and this method 
recall better and brighter days, and they honestly believe 
that bigger benefits could and should be in the offing, right now . 
That's why some people come to church, really now. And it could 
be a somewhat acceptable reason, as long as it's honest, even 
though it's done boldly. 

You ready for more? 

Some people, I do believe, come to church not to talk about God, but to talk about 

themselves . 

and in doing so they, like as not, will probably do one of two things — 

maybe both! - if they could. Let's reduce it to ourselves: 

...we who have come to church may either, as we talk about 
ourselves, tell God how good we are . . .or, how bad we 
have been behaving. Now, let's think about that for a little 


First, this business of telling God how good we are. You're about to protest 
somewhat, aren't you? You really can't quite figure out why anyone, and es- 
pecially the preacher, whose responsibility is to get you on your feet as 
soon as you're here, to get you on your feet in no time at all when the serv- 
ice begins with such words as these upon your lips: "We poor sinners confess 
unto Thee ..." — that such a person would ever so much as imply that we're 
showing up, whatever effort it takes, to draw God's attention to our goodness. 
Well now, maybe we don't say it so much in words, but we sure do have a very 
comfortable feeling right now, or at least a few moments ago, didn't we? We 


feel very good about ourselves, being here. We feel very good about ourselves-, 
being with one another. We feel very good being with people who when they 
stand, look in the direction toward God! 

....and yet when we take time to think about it, that Pharisee 
felt very good about himself when he went to church, felt so 
good about it that he mouthed off, listed all the reasons why 
he felt God should give him brownie points ... as for instance: 

- we are inside God's House — that makes us the good ones 

(you draw a line) 

...there are all those people who aren't 
here, the folks who don't show up. Psycholo- 
gically, we're in — they're out. 

We feel good about ourselves! Wittingly or unwittingly, we're 

branding them bad. 

Be careful ! 

- we haven't come empty-handed — that makes us feel good; 

/ ...the bad ones are the people who don't 
support the Lord's work. 
...and even though we have to give more because they give less, 
the net result remains, we feel the better because of it. And this 
really does make us feel good as we stand at attention on this 
Sunday morning roll call in this place: 

"Present, God — present and accounted for! 
And look what I've brought you!" 

- and when you come to think of it, we feel good while we're here, 
standing in God's presence, because we haven't told a deliberate 
lie, we haven't told a great big black bold lie for so long that 
we can't even remember when we told the tiniest bit of a lie.... 

/...and all the time there are all those other 
people whom we know, with whom we have to deal, 
who cheat, steal and deceive — ah, we draw the 
line, you see — 
We haven't done that, we're good — 

/ — they've done it, they're doing it, 
they're bad ! 
And in contrast, sharp or otherwise, that's the way it is! 


You know, of course, that makes us the good ones. Come now, we'd like to think 
that at some time in some way or another we'd like to think that before this hour is 
over, that God will make note of that, and give us good and proper credit. That 
makes us feel good, especially as we anticipate the way this sermon is going to end! 
You ought to sit down sometime and seriously probe the meaning of the liturgy and 

follow it through to its logical conclusion 

...We begin telling God that we're not very good, that 
we are a bunch of miserable sinners. .. .and the service ends, 
then, after we've talked like that to God, with God stretching 
forth His hand and the preacher raises his arms in benediction 
( benediction - that's the word, it comes from 
the Latin which means "a word well spoken") 
...and by the time the service is over, no matter what we've 
done, no matter what we've said, no matter how we have been in 
the past week, God's going to say to us, "I bless you." 
....God's going to say to you, "I've forgiven you!" 

God's going to say to you, "I need you — I'm counting on you.!" 

...and that makes us feel good. 

Please, I'm frequently transparent when I stand among you. You have no idea what 
it does to me sometimes when one of you may say to me, "Pastor, I need you - - Pastor, 
I'm counting on you " - - that makes me want to be better than I am , in order that I 
may produce, that your need could be met. And when this service is over and God gives 
us His benediction, that is exactly what He is saying to us: "I need you, I'm counting 
on you to go out into the world and to live as my obedient servants — to get on with 
the business of loving and living and laughing! and learning. So to all intents and 
purposes we feel good because by the time the benediction is pronounced, God's giving 
us His stamp of approval, a final and good word spoken by God, and beaming from 
Heavenward toward us embracingly. 

Now we need to pass to the other person, that perchance here and there among us 
there could be some folks who have come to church to talk about themselves, not to 
tell God how good they are, but how bad they are . To accommodate such people, the 
liturgy is sublime in this regard. The very first item on our agenda in this mar- 
velous way of worshipping that we exercise in the Lutheran Church, the very first 
item on the agenda is the Confession of Sins. To the person who's come to church 
to tell God that he's not as good as he knows he ought to be, who's been more bad 
than he should have been, the heading is there in bold letters in the liturgy: 



The older Prayer Book of the Anglican Church went so far as to phrase it this way: 

not simply, "We poor sinners" but "We poor miserable sinners . . " 

...not simply to say, "We have offended thee, God" — but it said 

" . . have grievously offended thee, God." 

Now, no one much likes to invade the privacy of another's prayer life. I think I 
did that once unwittingly. I greatly appreciate being able to come to church and 
sit where you sit, and this occurs for me every now and then when we have a plain 
service of the Holy Communion, and somebody else conducts it. 

A number of Sundays ago I came on that first Sunday of the month and sat near 
the back of the Nave, Had my private devotions, I prayed, my soul was being made 
quiet . . . completely unaware of the fact that somebody had come in and sat behind 
me, and I was totally unaware of that until my silence was broken by something that 
I heard being said - - that precious person behind me, in soft and earnest words, 
said this, as she had her personal devotions, "Dear God, forgive me all my sins, and 
help me to become better. .. .Dear God, forgive everybody their sins, and help them to 
become better." 

... to the day I die I hope that memory will keep that voice before 
me, for you see, the two go together. There is no way we can become 
better until we see ourselves as the forgiven. 

The way to a better step is to be accepted in love by a step that might have been 
taken earlier that was less than commendatory. That's what forgiveness does! And God 
says, "Come along now, you're forgiven, in order that you might become better!" And 
that's the only way you're going to become better! You see, that's exactly what for- 
giveness does. In the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, which I've already 
recited for you twice, that was the cardinal issue: the Pharisee was without fault ~ 
his record was beyond reproach! He had in his own eyes reached the point where he 
could stand before God and say, "Look how good I am!" He honestly permitted himself 
to believe that he had arrived - - so much so that he had no need for God! one ever gets that good! With all my soul, if you'd 
ask me what life has taught me, I'd have to say at best — 
^t ^^st — we've blundered, we've never quite pulled it off 
as well as it should have been, especially in the eyes of God. 
But the Pharisee thought he had. 

Now the other chap — remember, the line is drawn .... the other chap, poor 
fellow, he saw himself so down that the only way he could go was up. With God's 
help he could become better, so he didn't spend his energy vindicating himself. 


drifting around in various areas of gray. In the parable that Jestis spoke, the Phari- 
see was condemned because all that he did was to speak about his goodness - - now, not 
that Jesus condemns goodness. The publican was praised because all that he did was 
to talk about his badness — not so, that's only part of the story. The publican was 
praised because he first thought about God, and then he talked about his sins, and then 
he talked about mercy. "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." And that, too, is in our 

. . . are you aware how often in this service this morning we've 
said, "Lord, have mercyl". . . "Lord, have mercy[". . " "Lord, have 
mercy! "... "Lord, have mercy [ .."?... 
We sing the praise of the man who couldn't muster up to his credit a single good 
thing, because low down as he was, he became the closest to God. And the Pharisee 
was so good that he was separated from God. 

This is another in the series of sermons on " Favorite Texts of Famous Persons " 

- - this is the text of a peracher. Incidentally, of all these thirteen sermons in 
this series, we'll only talk about two preachers in the series. All the rest are 
lay people. This is the favorite text of Richard Baxter, a marvelous English preacher 
of 200 years ago, who doi±>led and tribled his congregation within a ten-year period 
by a simple thing - - without benefit of a lot of elaborate programming — never so 
much as a telephone or a mimeograph machine, never as much as with the benefit of a 
staff . . . but Richard Baxter was a person who, whatever his sin, called out to God, 

"Have mercy!" . . . and he knew himself forgiven. And from that moment on he preached 
as a dying man to dying men, and in every encounter that he had — "God loves you" . . 
"God loves you" . . . "God loves you — respond to His mercy and walk in that measure of 
redeeming love." That was the key-note of his preaching. 

I should hope that when I for one person stand at this sacred desk, you would be 
aware of the fervor of faith, for I too preach to you as a dying man — to dying men 

— which is simply to say, as one who knows he's been forgiven. To all of you who 
may still need the awareness of what it is to be numbered in the body of the redeemed. 

What do I do on my knees before I come to this sacred desk — are you aware of 

that, that I pray before I come here? These are the words I read, the words of Richard 


"I seldom come out of the pulpit that my conscience 
smiteth me, that I have not been more serious and 
fervent in such a case. It accuseth not so much of 
for want of ornaments or elegancy, nor for letting 
fall an unhandsome word. But it asks me. How could 


you speak of life and death with such a heart? How 
could you preach of Heaven in such a careless, 
sleepy manner? Do you believe what you say? Are 
you in earnest or in jest? Should you not weep 
over such people and should you not have tears 
that interrupt your words? 

Truly, this is the zeal that conscience doth ring 
in my ears: Lord, do that on our own souls that 
you would have us do on the souls of others." 

"In my heart there rings a melody, a melody of God's forgiving love, "... which 
makes me want to get on with another day. This I most certainly believe. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Transfiguration of Our Lord March 4, 1984 

(Matthew 17:1-9) 

WE MAKE so little time, Lord, to do 
this sort of thing, to give some measure 
of undivided attention to the interpre- 
tation of your Holy Word. That we should 
make the most of it, cleanse us from sin 
and enlighten us by your Holy Spirit; in 
the name of Jesus Christ, who when He 
came, came preaching. Amen. 

By this time you're probably aware of the fact that the sermon series for 
the most part being heard from this Saint Luke Pulpit has been on the general theme 
of "FAVORITE TEXTS OF FAMOUS PERSONS." That series, now, is being interrupted for 
the next few weeks for understandable reasons. The sermon that you are about to 
hear at this time has been especially prepared for this Sunday that marks the Trans- 
figuration of Our Blessed Lord. 

The sermon is based upon that passage of Scripture, the Gospel for the Day, 
Matthew 17: verses 1-9, and the sermon bears the title: "SOMETHING TO REMEMBER ." 

We all need that shining moment that did occur — that shining moment which 
comes to us as something to remember, someone to remember, some place to remember, 
an experience over and above what we ordinarily know, so that when we recall it 
we're stabilized, and we can persevere with patience the course which we have yet 
to take. 

I want to talk to you this morning really about two things: first, about 
something that happened , and then secondly, why I think it happened the way it did. 

Now please listen carefully as I read for you again what has already been 
read for us, and read so well — the Gospel lesson for this particular Sunday. We 
can afford to give it this added attention for two reasons at least — one, it is 
the passage of Scripture that appears in all three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, 
and basically very much the same — little variation. 

...and the second reason why I ask you to give it added attention is 

because all that you're going to hear, presumably, in the next eighteen 

minutes, is inspired by this passage of Scripture: 


" . . And after six days Jesus took with him 
Peter and James and John his brother, and led 
them up a high mountain apart . And he was 
transfigured before them, and his face shone 
like the sun, and his garments became white as 
light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses 
and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to 
Jesus, 'Lord, it is well that we are here; if you 
wish, I will make three booths here, one for you 
and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He was 
still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud over- 
shadowed them, and a voice from the clomd said, 
'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well 
pleased; listen to him. ' When the disciples 
heard this, they fell on their faces, and were 
filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, 
saying, 'Rise, and have no fear. ' And when they 
lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus 
only. . . . " 

Now let's be honest with each other. If I were to stand here this morning 
and tell you, I want to talk to you about a sermon that Jesus once preached — chan- 
ces are you wouldn't have too much difficulty, even if I related for you a parable 
that He Incorporated into His sermon, a parable which the people who heard it origi- 
nally had some difficulty in getting the main point so much so that Jesus had 

to chide them. . . well, say it again, if I were giving you a sermon that Jesus 
preached, you wouldn't have too much difficulty. It might be over and above your 
ability to maintain the standard that Jesus exalts, but at least Jesus-the-preacher- 
that you can handle. 

- - or if I came here this morning and said, "I want to 
talk to you about one of the miracles that Jesus performed 
— now maybe you can't understand miracles, and maybe 
you can't honestly believe that it is possible for 
Jesus to have done them.... I know that there are peo- 
ple who have great difficulty with miracles — Thomas 
Jefferson was one of them. There's a so-called Jeffer- 
son Bible in which he went through the New Testament, 
he went all through the life and teachings of Jesus 
Christ and cut out every reference to the supernatural 
or to the miracle. It didn't mean a thing to him, so 
he discounted them . . . 
...but even if I said, "I want to talk to you about a 

miracle," — by and large, most of you would stick 
with me. And if you couldn't understand how it 


could be a display of power on His part, at 
least you'd be impressed by the fact it was a display 
of His compassion - - for when He made blind people 
see.... He made blind people see because He loved them. 
- when He made lame people walk He made lame people 

walk because He loved them 

Now, when it comes this morning to say to you, "I'm going to talk about the Trans- 
figuration" - - come now, are you turned off already? Transfiguration . . . .the Ascen- 
sion , the Resurrection - - these sometimes throw us, they are beyond our under- 
standing. But they did happen. And you can't ignore it. What I've read for you 
this morning appears in three of the Gospels almost word for word. What I read 
for you this morning dominates the passages of the fourth Gospel, as Jesus Christ 
is revealed to us. If you think I'm putting you on a bit, be patient with me now 
while I share it with you in this manner: 

. . . Suppose Pastor David took a group of our young people, 
or older people, young adults — I don't care, and he said to 
Gary Lee Pritchett, our Resident Caretaker at Hallowood, 
"Now, about ten o'clock at night I'm going to take a limited 
number of these people with me to the top of Sugar loaf Mountain, 
and you make the necessary arrangements . I 'm going to expose 
them to a tremendous religious experience" . . . and then they 
come down off the mountain, say five hours later, and somebody 
runs to Gary Lee Pritchett, our Resident-Caretaker-at-Hallowood, 
and says, "I saw Jesus Christ ! - - I saw Moses !- - I saw Elijah ! 
I heard a voice from Heaven!"'d squirm. Some of you might even 
arrange for a meeting with the Church Council, 
and say. What's going on up there? These 
people saying they see faces, they hear voices, 
they see Jesus Christ! - - what's going on 
up there? 

Now when I put it to you in that light, can you see now why some people shy 
away from dealing with the Transfiguration, because that's exactly what did happen ! 
And it's a matter of Scriptural record. There were eye-witnesses — Peter, James 
and John — and they talked about it so much that when Matthew wrote his Gospel he 
incorporated it . . . when Mark wrote his Gospel, he put it in . . . and when Luke 
wrote his Gospel, he made room for it. 


Now I told you I want to talk to you about two things — the thing that 
happened . . . and why I think it happened. What happened, by this time you ought 
to be familiar with it, you've heard it read twice. I've referred to it in one 
way or another up to this very point - - - Jesus with three very close friends 
spent time apart from everybody else, up on a mountain, they withdrew, in a re- 
treat. And a profound experience takes place! — over and above anything they 
had ever known, in which the voice of God was heard, the divine imprimatur was 
placed on Jesus Christ, and Peter, James and John said, "We saw a person who had 
been dead for a thousand years — Moses ... we saw a person who had been dead 
for 800 years — Elijah. And we observed them talking with Jesus. Then when it 
was over, our eyes were focused on Jesus Christ, and Him alone." 

- - now that's what happened. I would discourage you 
with all my soul from ignoring it. Accept it. You may not 
be able to fully understand it, but you ignore it to the peril 
of your soul . . . 
It was an extraordinary thing, and there are some things extraordinary that cannot 
be explained. You simply accept the fact that the experience was a valid one 
for those who shared it. 

Now don't be too troubled by that. You may have had a moment in your life, 
a shining moment, an extraordinary moment, when something became crystal clear to 
you, and your life has never again been the same. You have been stabilized be- 
cause of it, you have been inspired because of it, and you've lifted yourself 
above the mundane features of this world. It had happened. 

I know that some of you at some moment in your life have had someone look 
into your eyes, and that person has allowed you to believe that that person trusts 
you, that that person respects you, that that person expects from you certain 
things that they are absolutely certain you can deliver, that you're capable of 

I've never hesitated to be transparent to you. You mean much to me, this 
parish, this Saint Luke congregation. But the day I left the first parish that 
God gave me to serve, unashamedly I said to them, "You will never know what you 
have done for me - - you were the first people ever to call me 'Pastor.'" And 
when that word 'Pastor' is spoken, it involves respect and trust. It means that 
they make you, to all intents and purposes, the guardian of their souls. And 
every now and then I need to remind myself of those shining moments when people 
said 'Pastor.' Do you understand what I mean? 


Don't think that I am sentimental, but there are some things that need to 
be said. I hope to the day I die my soul will be shaken when I hear two people — 
as no other two people in the world can do it — say "Pop." We need these moments, 
these shining moments, when it occurs to us, and lifts us up and above and beyond 
the way we deal with things normally. And that's what happened on the Mount of the 
Transfiguration - - I'll put it for you this way . . . 

...they had been with Jesus for some time, it was a crisis 
in mid-career, I think, to use professional terminology of 
our day - - it might even have been a mid-life crisis, if 
one can be so bold as to apply that to Jesus. Things had 
been going along fairly well, but now some of the disciples 
discovered that Jesus was talking about things yet to come, 
and they were quite formidable - - - talking about going up 
to Jerusalem, talking about a cross, talking about a terrible 
death ... so much so that they couldn't understand it, that's 

the way He was talking 

Now, straight in the middle of the ball-bat. He says, "Peter, James and John, you 
come with me. We;re going up in the mountain, just to be apart" And while they 
were there something happened. I'll tell you what I think it was . . . 
....they had been tripping along with Jesus now for some 
time, maybe they'd almost had a casual relationship — 
it was routine - - always saying the right thing, always 
doing the right thing, always allowing God to flow through 
His life - - maybe they were losing their perspective of 
all of this. . . . 
You know what happens every now and then in our routine relationships — God allows 
us a time when we're jolted by something in order to see something in proper focus 
....I think that's the way it was on the Mount of the Transfiguration. They just 
didn't dare get used to Jesus as just being another teacher, as just being another 
preacher, as just being a wonderful friend, as just being another in a series of 
miracle-workers that the world had seen ... it was incumbent upon them that they 
now see Him in clear and sharp focus as very God of very God. And that's what hap- 
pened in this Transfiguration experience. . . . the voice from Heaven . . . 
— and please — don't press me too hard, and don't you press 
this thing too hard, but every now and then we have to appre- 
ciate Scriptural truth from a purely human perspective.... 
Which leads me to say to you that when Jesus took on our flesh, when Jesus 
became human. He took on all the limitations of the flesh which is my way of 


became human. He took on all the limitations of the flesh which is my way of 

saying to you, Jesus was human too - - He was without sin, but He was human. And 
who knows but what at this time, mid-career, mid-crisis, crisis in mid-life — He 
needed to be reassured of who He was, of what He was meant to do. Any number of 
people have an identity crisis, and when that happens they need to be reminded of 
who they are, and what they're meant to do. 

That pathetic moment in "Death of a Salesman" when Willy Loman's sons stand 
with their mother when they put Willy's body down into the grave. And one of them 

says, "What a pity "(or words to that effect) " he never really knew who 

he was, and that's why he lived such a pathetic life, he never really knew who he 
was." We need to be reassured of who we are, and what we're meant to do, and that's 
what happened on the Mount of the Transfiguration - - God gets into the act, and — 
"Jesus, if it's reassurance that you need — here, take a look at Moses, take a 

look at Elijah Moses and Elijah — you talk to Jesus. You confirm it. Tell 

him it's worth it. Tell him how I never forsook you — tell him how I used you! 
Go ahead, Moses! — go ahead, Elijah! — tell him!" 

....and then the voice from Heaven itself, the very voice of God, 
unmistakably, "This is my beloved son — Jesus, you're mine. And 
since you're mine I have work for you to do, and I will never 
leave you, I will never forsake you, I will always be with you!" 
....and it happened in the presence of Peter, James and John. 

And why do you suppose it happened in the presence of Peter, James and John? 
— they needed this kind of recognition of Jesus. And from a purely human perspec- 
tive be careful, now, I'm skating on thin ice, who knows but what, as Jesus 

traveled closer and closer to Calvary, He might stand in need of Peter, James and 
John saying to Him, "But, Jesus, remember — we were with you when that vision 

splendid came Jesus, remember, we heard that voice from Heaven we know who 

you are, we know what you're meant to do!" 

There are those of us who have given thanks to God for people who have come 
to us and said, "We know who you are, and we know what you're meant to do, and to 
be." And every one of us needs those moments, those shining moments, when it be- 
came crystal clear to us. So I look upon the Transfiguration. We all need the 
moment splendid, the shining moment, that stabilizes us when the pressures become 
great and the temptation to be less than what we're meant to be. 

Why do you suppose we make as much of Confirmation as we do in Saint Luke? 
We have them make banners, we have them choose a Confirmation Hymn, we have them 


choose a Confirmation Verse — deliberately we've adapted the Confirmation Service 
to make it as personal as we possibly can - - where a person comes up to the altar, 
walks up to the very shadow of the altar itself, and is addressed with this question: 
"Do you love the Lord Jesus, and do you promise to serve Him through His Holy Church?" 
....and then that moment when only one voice is heard - - why do you suppose we do 
it that way? — to provide them, in days to come, the memory of a shining moment, 
when they did say that they did believe. 

I try not to forget my Ordination Day, I try to remember it specifically — 
a shining moment when holy hands were placed on my head and I was named a Minister 
of the Word and Sacrament. We need to recall those shining moments. 

I smile sometimes to myself when I do it, because I have no intent of running 
up a photographer's bill - - but there's one photograph that I insist on when a wed- 
ding takes place. I don't even ask the bride and groom if it's alright, I ask the 
photographer, "Take this shot, will you plwase" - - they're kneeling, they're kneel- 
ing before an altar, and a hand in blessing is over them. Hopefully, you see, some 
day in the future they might look back and remember that shining moment when nobly 
promises were made and commitments were made, and in the name not only of themselves, 
but in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Human as we are, we all need to remember some shining moment, as we experienced 
it somewhere, some place, some thing, and with someone. You need to hear this again.. 

she was a member of this congregation, and like as not I think of it especially 

on this Sunday because it was on a Sunday night that it happened. He'd been home on 
leave — he was flying back to his post. Somewhere over Virginia a terrible thunder- 
storm, an electrical storm — they all crashed to their death. In the letter that 
she wrote me, up to that time, she said — "It was as though we were reaching for the 
stars, we had it made. Pastor . . . and then my world fell apart." 

....then she went on to tell me what she did - - a letter that came 
to me years after the incident. "I had somebody take care of my little brood. 
Pastor, and then off I went. I went back to the place where he proposed to me... 
I went back to the place where we were married — ,1 went back to the place where our 
first child was born and baptized . . " What was she doing? — she was recalling 
shining moments — recalling exceedingly precious experiences over and above the or- 
dinary that could constitute a vision splendid. The amazing thing is that you and 

I are capable of comprehending a vision splendid and therein lies our hope 

as human beings. Without it, we become less than human. 

...this I most certainly believe 

* * A 
(Transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Second Sunday in Lent March 18, 1984 


(Luke 15:1-32) 

GRA.CE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

The 1984 Lenten series of sermons being preached from the Saint Luke pulpit has 
the general theme — "Who Are You, Jesus," and for the most part we're centering on 
what Jesus has to say about Himself. 

Who are you? How do you know who and what a person really is? Some people 
build a wall around themselves, some people erect a veil of privacy and defy us to 
tear it down or to invade it. They much prefer to be like that. It is not always 
easy to know who and what a person really is. 

But we attempt to find out. And in our attempt to find out \<re may do several 
things: we may ask the person directly — Who are you? - - or we may give the person 
a chance in a group setting to speak regarding himself or herself. It's a salutary 
thing for a person to try to articulate and to see himself as he uses words to des- 
cribe himself. Counselors, analysts, psychologists, psychiatrists — very properly 
and very wisely do this sort of thing when, in a session, whether it's group or one- 
to-one, they allow a person to speak in self-identif ication. And there comes a time 
when it's very important that that should be done. 

Now when it's done, I'll grant you there is always a risk. The picture that I 
may paint of myself could be as I actually am or as I would like to be, or as I would 
want you to perceive me, and there is always the risk . . . and the picture then some- 
times could be fact or it could be fantasy, and it could be blurred, less than true. 
Who are you? It's important that we allow people to answer for themselves. And Jesus 
on more than one occasion did that very thing. That's why you have a whole series of 
sermons during the Lenten season this year: "Jesus: On Jesus" — the "I AM — " sayings 
of Jesus. 

I would also go to people who have known someone if I wanted to know what a person 
is really like, I'd go to his friends. Now, you've known this person for quite a while, 
presumably he's laid his soul bare to you as he may not have done to other people - - 
"Tell me, what do you think this person is like?" so, friends could be helpful. 


— and would you believe it, one's enemies could also be helpful. 

How do people who are not kindly disposed toward me see me? They, 

too, could provide an insight.... 
And then there's something else: if you really want to know what a person is like, 
you may place some value on his words and the words of other people, but the acid 
test comes in what a person does . Let it be said repeatedly — a person is as a 
person does. Let me see how that person performs, let me see how that person 
functions. So today it's the most natural thing in the world that we would take a 
look at Jesus Christ — in the way He saw Himself functioning, and what He honestly 
believed He was meant to do. 

Incidentally, the answers to all these questions that I've proposed to you as 

the sources to which we'd go mesh together beautifully in the case of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus: on Jesus — what did He say of Himself? Here's the text, the 10th verse of 

the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke — "Jesus: on Jesus" — 

. . . The Son of man is come to seek and to 
save the lost ..." 

that's how He saw Himself functioning. And to that end He devoted all of His 


Friends — how did you see Jesus? of his friends summed it up perfectly when he said 
"He was someone who went around doing good." 

Enemies of Christ — How did you size Jesus up? 

...that introductory verse to the 15th chapter of the Gospel 
according to Luke, which is intended to be required reading 
for you before you came to church this morning — that 15th 
chapter of the Gospel according to Luke is one of the grand- 
est chapters in the entire New Testament. For one thing, it's 
a trilogy — it contains three perfectly beautiful and abso- 
lutely wonderful stories that Jesus told. And in the telling 
of each of those stories He's providing some measure of identi- 
fication as He related magnificently to each of the three 
stories that He told. Now you should know, the introductory 
verse to that entire chapter gives us an idea of how He was 
seen by His enemies . . . 

"... Then dr ew near un to h im all the publicans and sinners 
for to hear him . ~ 

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, sajying. This man 
receiveth sinners, and eateth with them ..." 


It wasn't the first time He had heard that kind of talk. It wasn't the first 
time that He knew people were sizing Him up like that. You remember that Monday, 
the first Monday in March, when we had the all-day Bible Study for anybody who wanted 
to come, on the hour - - we talked about Zacchaeus. And we dealt very earnestly with 
the theme that here was Zacchaeus, ostracized, harrassed — alienated — separated 
from people who didn't even want him around, who were very content in keeping him 
separated ... so much so that he had to run away from the crowd, climb up a tree — 
that's where they wanted him — up there! — not down there with them. But listen 
to this: Love always takes the initiative. Love always takes the first step. So 
Jesus Christ says to Zacchaeus, long before Zacchaeus even called him by name — 
Jesus Christ says, "Zacchaeus, I see you, I found you!" 

(Love takes the initiative) 

"Zacchaeus, you get yourself down! — Zacchaeus, listen to me! 

I'm going to go to your house for supper — we're going to 
have a long talk ..." 
...Love takes the initiative — Love takes the first step. Love doesn't wait for 
somebody else to do it. And that's exactly what happened. And as a result, in this 
case — not always! — Love doesn't always get a return! Perfectly mindful of that, 
responding realistically. Love nonetheless sees it's in duty bound to take the initia- 
tive . . . there's no guarantee that there will be a return. But in this case there 
was, handsomely so. Zacchaeus turned around completely in his life. 

Now why do I tell you this? Because there were people who saw all this happening 
and they murmured, and said, "He's gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner ! " 
They were perfectly content to keep that person in his isolation, to allow him to be 
alienated, to allow him to be separated. But not so Jesus Christ. 

Who are you, Jesus — how do you see yourself? — to what end do 
you devote your energy? Why are you here? . . . 

"I came to seek and to save the lost . . . " 

Now in this magnificent 15th chapter of the Gospel according to Luke there are 
three stories. One, the story of a man who was a shepherd, he had 100 sheep.... and 
as anyone who has traveled in that part of the world knows, he brings the sheep 
back at night to their shelter. It can be a man-made shelter, or it can be a natu- 
ral enclosure, a rock that's large enough to encompass a flock of sheep. And as the 
shepherd brings them at night to bed them in, whether he calls them by name or by 

number - - "95 96. . . .97. . . .98. . . .99 . . . one is missing. And according to that 

marvelous interpretation of the Good Shepherd with which Jesus Christ identified 
Himself, at the risk of his own life - - the shepherd goes out and he seeks the lost 


sheep until he finds it. 

Then He tells the second story, about a woman who had ten silver coins, maybe a 

necklace, maybe a bracelet what a marvelous story could be told as to how she 

got them and to why they were dear and precious to her. But one day she discovers 
one is lost. She panics. And she has only one thing in mind: the lost should be 
found. And when she finds it she calls in the whole neighborhood and says, "Rejoice 

with me, for what I have lost I have now found!" 

Now follow me carefully the first story: one-out-of-a-hundred 

- - the second story: one-out-of-ten 

- - now the third story: one-out-of-two 

There was a man who had two sons, and one became very willful and said, "I can't stand 
it here any longer! I want to do my own thing! I want to be me! - - - and he sepa- 
rated himself, deliberately, willfully, and goes out into the far country and gets 
lost. And then Jesus tells how the old man never gave up on him . . . one day he 
comes back, and there's singing and there's joy and there's merriment, and there's 
feasting . . . and the old man says, "This one who was lost is found!" 

and Jesus says, that's the way it is in Heaven. Jesus said, "I 

have come to seek and to save the lost - - that means I have come to 
rescue you." 

Now look at it very freely and very frankly: how is anyone rescued? It isn't 
because the victim comes from his miserable situation to somebody else. The victim 
is rescued only when the person is in a position to do the saving, goes from where 
he is to where the victim is! So Jesus Christ comes to us. 

That's the meaning of the Incarnation. I need giants in my life — we all need 
giants in our lives. Pope John 23rd became a giant for me. I need to tell you three 
things about him. I think I still have hanging outside what had been my office on 
the main floor of the Christian Education Building a picture of Pope John 23rd and 
somebody else ~ he's the one with the big Italian face and the round shoulders. 
Three things from that man that have cast a shadow benignly upon my life — 

— Pope John the 23rd is the one who's supposed to have said — good 
advice for anybody who works with people — "You see a great deal; 
you correct as much as you can; and you forget as much as you can." 

The second thing in the life of Pope John the 23rd: it was diagnosed: incurable 
cancer, he was going to die, he knew he was going to die. Right after his death 
they found a note that he had written on his desk — something that he had written. 


I'd be very happy if I could tell you that it was a quotation from Scripture, but it 
wasn't ... but something that I think Scripture could have inspired and equally 
sublime - - God forgive me when I say it — equally sublime as a passage of Scripture 

_ a very simple thing. In anticipation of death he had written: 

"My bags are packed." 
...which was simply his way of saying. "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit ~ 
I'm ready!" 

Now the third thing. The first Christmas when he was Holy Father he left his 
residence in the Vatican and he went outside the walls of the Vatican -- on Christmas 
Day in the morning .... to visit a prison. And as he moved from one cell block to 
another he was heard to say, "You could not come to me where I was - - so I have come 
to you" what is that but the sublime meaning of the Incarnation! In our sinful- 
ness, in our wickedness, in our lostness we cannot go to God.... so God comes to us. 
And if Pope John 23rd wanted to be absolutely honest he could have said, "Maybe you 
would not have come to me" ... and there are people like that, who have no inten- 
tion whatsoever to either seek out the good or respond to the good. But nonetheless 
that doesn't keep the good from going to the bad. 

I wish I had time to talk with you about the way people become lost, and separa- 
ted, and isolated. Very hurriedly - - some like the lost sheep, who simply strayed 
away, not paying much attention to where it was going and got to where it was inadver- 
tantly. That's the way some people stray, and get lost... 

...some people like that lost coin get lost due to no circumstances 
of their own whatsoever. Something happens, and they get isolated, 
and separated, and when is a thing lost? - - it's lost when it's our 
of relationship, when it's somewhere where it doesn't belong and has 
value only when it is where it belongs, an environment where its full 
potential can develop - - - a diamond in the gutter. .. .really now, it 
has little value as long as it's in the gutter, but 
only where it ' s meant to be do we look upon it as some- 
thing prized and precious. 
But the thing that you've got to remember, which is exceedingly difficult for some 
of us, that when a thing or a person is lost, it's lost, and it doesn't do much good 
for people to sit in judgment when the thing that needs most to be done is to minis- 
ter to the person that's lost. 

I would never go to a physician, if I had an accident, who as soon as the physi- 
cian saw me, started to give me a lecture — blame me for having been foolish enough. 


or stupid enough, to have found myself in a situation where I could become injured. 
The thing I want most is for him to minister to me in the situation in which I find 
myself. Which is simply my way of saying to you, when a person is lost — whether 
a person becomes lost because like the sheep it simply strayed away .... or like 

a willful goat.... or like one of the two sons who deliberately chose to get lost 

when a person is lost, he's lost. And the effect is the same. 

To that end Jesus came to people not to condemn, not to condone their stupidity 
or folly, but to show compassion. "Who are you, Jesus?" - - 

- - "I am someone who came to seek and to save the lost." 

. . . .and every single one of us runs the risk of 
becoming lost. And the happy thought is, there's 
a God who with undiscourageable love, like the 
Hound of Heaven, pursues us, and He keeps at it 
until we respond. This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Rajnuond Shaheen 
The Third Sunday in Lent 

March 25, 1984 

GOD, We make so little time to do this 
sort of thing, to give some measure of 
undivided attention to the interpreta- 
tion of Your Word. That we should make 
the most of it now, enlighten us by 
Your Holy Spirit. In the Name of Jesus 
Christ, who when He came, came preaching. 

(John 10: 1-9) 

If I were an artist and I had been commissioned to paint a picture of the 

disciples, I know exactly how I would picture them in a way that I have never seen 

them pictured on anyone's canvas. I'd have them pictured with puzzled looks on 

their faces - - for surely it happened quite frequently — every now and then when 

Jesus was speaking ... I can see them, with that look on their faces indicating 

they can't possibly understand what He was trying to say. It happened so often. 

Listen for it now as this passage of Scripture is read: 

" ' ♦ • Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that 
entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, 
but climbeth up some other way, the same is 
a thief and a robber . . " 

(this is Jesus talking now, and His disciples 
are close by — they're hearing everything 
that He's saying) 

" . . But he that entereth in by the door is the 
shepherd of the sheep. 

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear 
his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name , 
and leadeth them out. 

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he 
goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for 
they know his voice. 

And a stranger will they not follow, but will 
flee from him; for they know not the voice of 

This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they 
understood not what things they were which he 
spake unto them. , . . " 

And so presumably as He stands there looking at them, with this kind of look on their 
faces - - "Please run that by us again, Jesus — go over that once more!". .. .which He 


So then He said to them again. 

• • 

. Ver: 


verily, I 

say unto 


I am 


door < 

3f the sheep. , 

. . . by ; 

me if 





he shall be saved. 



go ■ 

Ln and 


, and find 


• • • 


One of the problems that Jesus had on His hands was that people would not al- 
ways understand who He was. Some people wanted to make Him out that He was something 
other than He was. And when some people had some idea as to who He really was, they 
weren't sure that they could accept it. So very frequently Jesus as He dealt with 
people had to understand just where He was — in their understanding of Him..... so 
much so, on one occasion He pressed the disciples to the point and He said, 

"what are people saying about me? Who do they 
think I am?" 
...and then, looking them directly in the eyes — 

"And who do you say that I am? How well am I being received?" 

No one wants to be misunderstood, honestly now! And some of us, in our desire 
to be fully understood are quite willing to he very transparent to other people, as 
open as we can possibly be. Jesus Christ really serves little If any purpose in our 
life if we really don't reach the point where we know who He is. And that's exactly 
why this series of sermons is, being preached from the Saint Luke pulpit this Lenten- 
tide of 1984 on the general theme of "Who Are You, Jesus?" And who can answer better 
than He? And on more than one occasion, even before people asked Him, He volunteered 
and told us who He is. Who are you, Jesus? - - the question remains the same, but 
the answers that He gave are not always the same. This morning we're dealing with 
an answer that's entirely different than the answer that you'll get next week, and 
the answer we got last Sunday, and the Sunday before that. Today in the story that 
He told. He said, "You want to know who I am? — I am the doori" 

You should know that years ago when I had the good fortune to go to the Holy 
Land for the first time I made up my mind that there is one thing in particular that 
I didn't want to miss, that of all the things that I could see, this most certainly 
would be at the top of my list. And I might surprise you 

— it wasn't especially to go to the Garden of Gethsemane, 

as much as I wanted to be there, to identify with the 
prayer life of Jesus, and His agony 

— it wasn't that I felt the need to go to Bethlehem, 

where He was born 


— it wasn't that I couldn't think of leaving the Holy 
Land without staying for a little while in the 
Garden of the Resurrection, important as that would 

be for me 

But this is what I wanted to see, I think more than anything else — it was related 
to the first passage of Scripture that I ever memorized: 

"The Lord is my shepherd . ♦ . " 
— I wanted to see a Palestinian shepherd, that's what I wanted to see, and with a 
flock of sheep. 

I was doubly blessed. I got not only to see the shepherd and his sheep but 
I also saw in a village the large enclosure where the shepherds would bring their 
sheep at night-fall. It was like a community effort, more than one shepherd would 
use it. But each shepherd knew his own sheep by name, so when it came time to go, 
he could sort them out. 

And then I also had this good fortune — you see, they used a communal shel- 
ter only in the severe months of the year. But when the weather was more ideal — 
the late spring, summer, early fall — the shepherd had his flocks out in the hill- 
side, far removed from the village. So when it came time to bed them down at night, 
to provide them with shelter and security, he'd look for some natural setting, it 
was an enclosure underneath a huge rock, and this overhang would provide the very 
shelter that they needed at night. And like as not there was a very narrow entrance- 
way, naturally formed, about as high as the height of an average sheep. 

But the sheep had to be protected at night. I'm sorry to have to tell you 
that there were not all good shepherds. There were some who were wicked and evil, 
and they'd steal the sheep that belonged to another shepherd, especially at night. 
And then the sheep had to be protected from the animals that were prowling under 
cover of darkness. So there had to be some kind of a door, and there was no natural 
door for this enclosure, this over-hang of a rock. So Jesus said — remember now, 
remember what the shepherd would do, and they were familiar with that - - the shepherd 
would lie himself down in that entrance-way, and he himself would constitute the door! 
No one got in except by him, no one went out except by him. 

Now Jesus was telling them this story in order to get His point across that He 
wanted to make: that He is the one by which people find security, shelter, protection 
against all the ills of a wicked world . He even went so far as to allow them to be- 
lieve, and purposely so, that He was the door-way to God — that no one ever came to 
God except as they came through Him. 


Now let's talk about doors for a minute. Doors have always fascinated me. 
The local newspaper in the time in which I grew up ran a series of photographic 
studies on doors. The one they featured was at that very beautiful brick house, a 
modified sort of mansion, which became almost the center of that little town, at 
Broad Street and Loyalsock Avenue. I'm sorry to tell you, things are never as they 
once were. When I go back now that house is no longer there, it's been dismantled — 
a modern branch bank is there, with its driveway window, its automatic teller. Some 
of us lament it — things never are as once they were, and we need to brace ourselves 
when we go back home . . . never quite the same. 

But I do remember that house as it once was, with its very beautiful door — 
impressive — and all that surrounded it to make the entrance a very graceful way. 

Doors have always fascinated me. There are all kinds of doors, you know — 
little doors.... big doors. ,. .light doors - heavy doors. .. .doors made out of 
wood, doors made out of bronze, doors made out of plastic, doors made out of 

fiber-glass doors that open and close on conventional hinges, doors that 

open and close like an accordian as they fold doors that slide into walls, 

doors which, with the press of a button by remote control will roll up into 
the celling of a garage. .... 
But they all serve the same function. Doors may differ in their size and their quality, 
in the material. But the function and the purpose of a door remains, to keep some- 
thing on the outside from entering, and to protect what's on the inside from what's 
on the outside. They all serve a purpose. 

And that door also serves as something that separates. The only way I can get 
on the inside is to go through that door. The only way I go to the outside is to go 
from where I am through that door into an outside world. 

The child in the heart of the man remains, you know that, of course you do, 
and the older you become the more real that is. The child in me recalls how when I 
was a youngster my dad would take me to town to be outfitted, once a year, for my 
clothing. It might be either springtime or it might be done in the fall of the year 
when we got ready for school. And I remember especially when I had my first pair of 
long trousers. I got that suit for my confirmation, a teenager. We went to town. 

In that town of maybe 20 - 30 thousand at that time, as every town had, there 
was a square — Market Square, if you please. There were three or four clothing stores 
in that Market Square. One was owned and operated by the Steam Brothers, Bill and 


Abe. Either one of them, Bill or Abe, would be standing on the sidewalk, waiting for 
prospective customers to go by, and as my dad and I would walk by - - I can still see 
how Abe (or Bill) came out, with the glad-hand and the smile, and before we knew it, 
we were inside the store! - - because he knew he had something on the inside that he 
believed we ought to have. And there are always people beckoning us in their direc- 
tion to cross the threshold of their place, because they think they have something and 
that we ought to have. 

The limited number of times that I go to a shopping mall, or to a business dis- 
trict, I'm quite intrigued by the way people make their entrance-ways attractive — 
because "there's something on the inside that we want you to have." 

Did it ever occur to you how different your life has become because of the 
doors you've entered? ... .or the places you seek out because you want to pass a parti- 
cular door? There are some doors you seek out and to which you want to go because 
they will give you momentary pleasure — temporary satisfaction — no question about 
it! And you can't wait until you get there.... 

....there are some doors, thank God, through which you enter because 
once you enter them your life can never again be the same because 

Improvement is setting in 

I would not want to return to this place again if I did not honestly believe that 
there are some of you who have found a difference for good set in your life because 
you entered the doors that lead to Saint Luke Church. This 1 most certainly believe. 

Jesus said, "I am the door. By me if any man enter, and go out . . . " 

We don't always think about that, do we? Doors lead in doors lead out. Jesus 

knows what He wants us to find on the inside, where He is. But He's also giving us 
to understand that once He's had us for a little while, and when we turn to go out 
and to face the world — which we have to face — you know very well that you can't 
stay here forever, the time comes when you have to leave, and you go! When you go 
you ought to go differently because of what you've received here. And that should 
strengthen you to persevere with patience the course that you have to run beyond 
these doors. 

One of the finest compliments I ever heard paid the people of this parish was 
paid quite indirectly. A woman became a member of this congregation — she was sepa- 
rated from the church for some time, and then she came back within the Body of Believ- 
ers. And she said to me, "You know what, Pastor — my family says that since I have 
been coming to Saint Luke Church I am fit to live with at home." What we receive 
here we receive in vain if it doesn't spill over on the outside once we go through 
these doors. 


Jesus said: " I am the way, the truth and the life" 

Jesus said: " No one comes unto the father but by me. " 
...and then some of us maintain, as Scripture says: 

" There is no name under Heaven whereby we can be saved " 

because once we've come to Jesus, once we've seen Him as the door that leads 

into life and salvation and peace and pardon — and even to God Himself — there's 
no other door that we want to enter, there's no other path that we want to take. 
And that just because Jesus delivers . He was always talking about what was inside 
the Kingdom, what was inside the door He wanted us to use. Not everybody delivers 
once they get us on the inside. 

I have been spending some time these days looking back over the last 14 - 15 
years in particular. One incident I happen to recall was the day we had "Saint Luke 
Night At The Circus" - - we rolled down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway — 600 strong, 
filling 20 buses. You can never guess why I was excited about going to the circus - 
because - let me tell you. I had read about old P.T. Barnum, delightful character that 
he was — always finding ways to make another dollar. 

....he discovered that one of his tents where a side-show 
was going on, people came and were completely fascinated 
by what they were seeing, and they just stayed, longer than 
he thought they ought to stay, and he wasn't selling any more 
tickets — and that's where he made his money — the more 
tickets he sold the more money he made ... so he had to devise 
some way to get those people out of that tent, so they wouldn't 
stay there as long, with all the crowds milling on the outside. 
Clever chap that he was, he put up a sign so that all could see it after they 
were inside the tent a little while — the sign that simply said: 

P. T. Barnum' s successors in the circus Business still have that sign somewhere under 
the big top. 

... .now what happened was: these poor benighted people, 
not knowing what the word meant, thought that on the outside 
was something far more fascinating than they had already seen, 
only to discover as they followed THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS — 
they were outside! — and nothing there! 


Not so this Jesus! - - who Is always saying: "This way — follow Me! 
- - I am the way, and Inside m^ door ..." 
....He was always talking about what was inside. 
There are two worlds, you know, as far as Jesus is concerned — a world outside 
the Kingdom and a world inside the Kingdom, and He spent all of His energies talking 
about all the wonderful things they would find inside the door to His Kingdom. He 
didn't spend much time talking about what was outside — you need to hear this: mentor in the faith, whose lengthened shadow was cast benignly 
upon me throughout my formative years, even after I became your Pastor, 
the man who performed our wedding ceremony and the man who baptized our 
two boys, the man who followed me throughout the years - - Harvey Daniel 
Hoover — a man who taught me what a wonderful thing it is to be a pastor.... 
— once related to me ... . when he was supplying a church 
in Chicago, a nearby undertaker came and said, "We have this woman 
to bury. Nobody is making arrangements, but I can't think of 
having this person buried without a preacher conducting the service... 
Dr. Hoover, every inch a pastor, made himself available, and he said, 
"But can you tell me a little bit about her?" 

"Well," the undertaker said, "You look as though you can understand 
me - - " (Hoover was quite young in those days).... he said, "She 
was a woman of the streets, that's what she was, that's the kind of 
a life she lived , . . you still want to conduct the service?" 

And then Dr. Hoover had to decide for himself, what would he say at 
that service? - - and momentarily , only momentarily, he was tempted 
to preach about the wrath of God, the torment of the damned, and 
what Hell is like. And then he caught himself up short - - - 
"Why should I preach to these people who might come to 
that service (he presumed that some of her friends, her 
customers? — other women of the streets, they might come) 
and so he said to himself — "Why should I preach to them about Hell? 
They live in it! They already know about Hell!" 

but Jesus-fashion, Harvey Daniel Hoover spoke about the love of God, the kindness 

of God, the possibility of Heaven. That's what Jesus was always doing while He was 
here, not spending His energies telling about the evil that they'd already tasted 


But with a beckoning look - - and a "C'mon this way! — there's something better 
inside My Kingdom ..." 

Now remember: a door divides, a door separates. 

— you are either on the inside or the outside. 

Where are you? 

I know where you could be . . . and that's a happy thought! 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 
The Fourth Sunday in Lent 

April 1, 1984 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 


Today's sermon is the next-to-the-last in the series on the general theme: Who 
Are You, Jesus? The text that you are about to hear is expressed repeatedly in the 
6th chapter of the Gospel according to John. This now is the way the 35th verse 

" . . and Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life." 
Who are you, Jesus? The question remains the same. The answer may vary, for He was 
many things — basically, Savior of all mankind, but who has come to us. 

— who are you, Jesus? "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life 

— who are you, Jesus? "I am the door " 

— who are you, Jesus? "I am the light of the world" 

— who are you, Jesus? "I am the good shepherd " 

— who are you, Jesus? "I am the vine" 

— who are you, Jesus? " I am the bread of life" 

It's a far cry from when Jesus spoke those words on a Galilean hill-top not far 
from the Lake of Galilee to a small town on the banks of the Susquehanna River in 
north central Pennsylvania. We need to talk about both incidents. But first, the 
one farthest away and longest ago . 

Jesus had performed a miracle, the miracle that comes quickest to mind to any 
Sunday School youngster. Ask him to name the miracles performed by Jesus and in all 
likelihood the Feeding of the Five Thousand will be the first one that he might name. 
Jesus had done that, apparently with the snap of the fingers, so it would seem to some 
people - - five thousand people were fed out of a small supply of bread and fishes 
that had been handed to Him. The people were absolutely astounded — who wouldn't 
have been! And they responded exactly the way you would have responded — poor, 
hungry as they were, they said to themselves: "We've got something going for us! — 
we hadn't better let this fellow get away!" - - they made up their minds they'd bring 
pressure to bear and they'd name him their King. Why not? They would be fed — 
and there would always be bread on the table — man's basic need. 

Jesus was greatly concerned. Despite the popularity, knowing human nature as 

" BREAD OF LIFE " (2) 

He does. He was fully aware of the fact that they were coming to Him for the wrong 
reason. They wanted their stomachs to be filled. His greater concern was for 
their souls. He's the same one who said, "Man does not live by bread alone"... and 
so while He did feed them bread. He had to get them to shift gears and to think of 
the bread that does not perish: He had to get them to think in terms of the diet of 
the soul. He had to get them to think in terms of the ingredients that would pro- 
vide healthy fare for their minds and their hearts - - 

" . . for as a man thinketh, so he becomes ..." 
and " . . out of the heart are the issues of life ..." 
So He had to get away from them. It was too much for Him. Their failure to under- 
stand Him as He really is, this intense desire on their part to elevate Him, to 
to exalt Him, just because He put food on their tables. 

So after a little while they caught up with Him, He couldn't escape them for- 
ever. And then He had to confront them. In no uncertain way He had to give them to 
understand that they were following Him for the wrong reason. And with nary a crumb 
in His hands He said these words: "I am the bread of life." want bread? - - I dare you to think in these terms 
"I am the bread of life." 

Now let's try to understand it. This metaphor, you see, gets in our way because 

we've dealt with it so often. And if we don't take heed we won't get beyond the 

imagery. What do the words really mean? — six- monosyllable' words -^- what do they 
mean: "I am the bread of life." ? 

Ask the question: What is bread? Bread is absolutely basic. Without bread, 

meaning food, we cannot live. I remember it as though it were yesterday, seeing 

that baby boy brought to his mother, now to see him for the first time since he had 

been delivered and he goes so naturally and so instinctively to the breast that 

she bares. From the day that we're born we reach out for food. 

Making hospital calls this past week - - few in number they may be that I make 

these past days, I still recall vividly that hospital bed with all the gadgetry 

'round about it . . . feeding a patient, even though the patient may be terminally 

ill and even though the patient may be comatose, not conscious at all, there are 

those who make decisions that this person needs to be sustained, to be fed, until 

the very moment that that person may breathe his or her last. Say it again and say 

it often: bread is basic. In the Middle East they refer to bread as the staff of 

life — absolutely essential. We reach for it - - we reach for it from the moment 

we are born, and generally speaking we crave it, all other things being equal, to 

the time that we die. Without it we cannot live. 


But man is more than body. Man is more than a person with a stomach. He's 
a soul - - who dreams, who feels, who thinks and knows that when he dies, be- 
ing put six feet in the ground is not the end - - - who day by day orders the days 
of his years with the prospect of something beyond the grave. And to that end his 
soul needs to be nurtured, nourished. 

Now, that Pennsylvania town on the banks, of the Susquehanna River in the north 
and central part of the state —- we liyed in that town before we came to you. She 
lived about six houses away from where we lived. I am terribly embarrassed to tell 
you, I don't remember her name. When we knew her we had reason to believe that she 
was comfortably fixed. Her husband had died and left her a fair amount of money. 
She lived in a very attractive house, a very solid brick house with a slate roof. 

Not long after we moved here we got word that she had died. As you might sup- 
pose, as you would do, I asked: and what caused her death? I can still hardly be- 
lieve it — they said she died from malnutrition., next door to where we lived, just six doors away 
from where she lived, was the church. And then right 
across; the street from the church, was the grocery store. 
She could get to that grocery store from her house in 
less than a minute-and-a-half , or about that. She had 
only to open the door and to call for the fine youngsters 
who lived on that street - - you could trust any one of 
them — she could have given them money and said, "Go 
and get me this" . . . she could have lifted the receiver 
and called Jimmy Shockey, the Italian store-keeper who loved 
the neighborhood, and his aging father, old Pop, would trip 
up the street with a basket and deliver it. It was as avail- 
able as all that I 

...but she died from malnutrition. Which is simply to say two things: not enough 

food, and whatever it was, it wasn't the right kind . 

Some decades ago we shocked the whole community when I introduced a physician 
friend of mine to the service club in which I had membership. When the word got 
around at the round table where I sat that he was doing something innovative and 
creative -— this was 40 years ago, they'd never heard of it up there — he was 
prescribing vitamins, food supplements for old people. They had never thought in 
those terms. But people who live alone, who may be disinclined to eat properly, 
should be guaranteed that they get the basic amount of what they ought to have.... 
...she didn't have to die of malnutrition - i^e made that plain to you already: 


she didn't have to die from malnutrition! 

And you know how sensitized we are In this day. When you are Inclined to 
speak 111 of the world, remember, we are a people who say there should be bread 
for the hungry. We do get Involved in soup kitchens. We do think in terms of 
our surpluses and lament the fact that we can't quite get those surpluses out to 
people who ought to have them. We are sensitized to the fact that bread is basic 
for everybody and everybody ought to have his share. Really now, really — we 
won't quite be as hard as the person who said, "If he won't work he can't eat." 
We do have a concern for the hungry. Bread is basic. 

I remember when I first went to Europe, when I was going to spend two weeks 
in Sweden - - I had a Swedish friend teach me my basic Swedish: 

" yag Sr hungrig" 
...he knew very well before long I'd be hungry. I also knew that there might be 
somebody who would feed me, so I learned my other Swedish: 

" Tack sa mycket" . . . "Thank you very much." 

When you talk about food you talk about appetite. And some people aren't eat- 
ing properly because they've lost their appetite. A person goes to a physician — 
you know very well how he'll probe and ask questions. You're concerned about your 
physical well-being? — eventually he'll ask the question: how is your appetite? 
....and he becomes concerned, of course, if you say, "I've lost my appetite," Some 
people lose their appetite because they eat the wrong kind of food. 

Spiritually speaking now, what's the diet for your soul? We're a very diet-con- 
scious generation. Do you have substantial fare for your soul? Is the Intake of 
love and peace and forgiveness sufficient to sustain you? ... or is your diet one 
of envy, and jealousy, pride? You can be starved on that kind of thing. You can 
form a cancer that can eat your very heart away. But a diet of peace and hope, of 
forgiveness - - that's something else. 

When I was a youngster at camp, we had camp for two weeks at Camp Nawakwa, senior 
high kids went there. I discovered something that I noted then that I wish I could 
find again in camp life - - by the end of two weeks every youngster seemed to look 
much better than when he came at the beginning of the two-week period — physically, 
now, as well as spiritually. And I think one reason was this: we were under a dis- 
cipline — we got up at a certain hour in the morning and we went to bed at a certain 
hour at night... and we ate only at prescribed times and we ate well-balanced suf- 
ficient food. There was no such thing as "junk food" available at Camp Nawakwa. 


The camp store was open for about fifteen minutes after lunch, and in those days gone 
by, the only thing that you could spend was ten cents, and that would buy an ice cream 
bar, if that's what you wanted, but that was the only kind of food that was ever 

served or purchased aside from the dining room table those grand and glorious — hear me out — in those grand and 
glorious days when the camp truck would go out in the neighborhood 
and get the greens, the beans from the surrounding farmers, and the 

fresh corn, and the apple butter that was made in that part that's 

the kind of diet that they had — well-balanced, strict hours, you ate 

only at meal-time 

And at the end of a two-week period you could tell the difference - - none of this 
sporadic eating. 

Oh, I must tell you about my predecessor's widow in the parish where I first 
served. She was about as severe and stern as he was good and gracious. This goes 
back to the days when the tramps came along the railroad. One came to her back porch 
for food - - it happened so frequently in those days — she fed him. 

....weeks later the same tramp came back. And as only she could do it, 
recognizing him, she said, "I fed you before!" 

...and all he could say was, "Yes, lady, and I got hungry again." 
This is the fundamental weakness for some of us in our spiritual diet. Weeks and months 
can pass before we show up for the food that we need most in order that our souls might 
be nourished. You think about that. 

I am also thinking that when I go to the hospital and see how they can force-feed 
people in order to keep them alive. Well, we don't have any such gadgetry, spiritually 
speaking. I can't force-feed you with a generous portion of love. I can't even force- 
feed forgiveness into your soul. Even when the pastor raises his hands, pronounces the 
Absolution, he can't force that on you. It's only as you wish it, and want it, and re- 
ceive it. Now that's something to think about. 

Jesus said, "I am the bread of life." What He's really saying is "Without me you 
really can't live." And here and there there are some of us who take Him at His word. 
And that's why we're willing to face tomorrow. He forgives yesterday. And He holds 
out before us a measure of confidence so that we can face an unfolding future without 
fear, even to when we breathe our very last. This I most certainly believe. 

* * * * 
(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday of Easter ■ May 6 , 1984 


FY ODOR DOSTOYEVSKY" (Xuke 15 : 11-32 ) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lordo Amen. 

I am not quite certain what first comes to the minds of our two sons when, as 
boys, they'd go out to be with their grandmother in the country. It could be that 
they remember very quickly how Grossmudder would reach for that Savory roaster and 
put in it that beef roast, surrounded with onions, potatoes and carrots, and then 
bring it in due time steaming hot to the table - - maybe they remember thatoooo 

...maybe they remember her homemade apple pie 

But I'm reasonably certain that both of them recall with utmost of satisfaction how 
Grossmudder told them stories. She had been a school teacher, you see, and she al- 
ways placed a high value on those good stories that could be told, and always the 
stories with a moral. 

Which leads me to suggest to you, when you think of Jesus Christ, how do you 
think of Him? His personality was multi-faceted, no question about that .„ 

— He came as a preacher — you may think of Him that wayo « . . 

— He came as a miracle-worker — you think of Him that way.„.o 

— He came as one to recruit people to become His leaders, to carry 
on His Kingdom when He was no longer here — you think of Him as one 
who gathered together His disciples . „ . . . 

— you think of Him addressing throngs of people, five thousand at 
one time..... you also think of Him, multi-faceted, as. sitting down 
and engaging just one person in meaningful conversation as they 
tarried at the well in Samaria. ..» o . 

— you think of Him preaching that Sermon on the Mount that goes on 
chapter after chapter in Matthew in particular. . o » .you may also think 
of Him at the time, this multi-faceted personality, of never so much 
as saying a single word to a person who had confronted Him and tried 
to goad Him on to say something. 

But what you think of Jesus, and whenever you think of Him, please make room — think 
of Him as the story-teller. Again and ever so often, in order to illustrate a basic 
truth. He wove it into a story „ 


Everyone loves to hear a story told, no matter what our age, and the child re- 
mains in the heart of the adult. Let someone begin in this way: "Now I want to tell 
you a story - - "...oand figuratively speaking, that person has our attention, because 
so many stories are so different, and they can be told differently. The basis for 
all that you're going to hear in this sermon now is the 15th chapter of the Gospel 
according to Luke, 32 verses, one entire chapter, consists of three different stories 
that Jesus told. They had a common theme, but three different stories. 

I need to tell you this-; each of them begins on a happy note, but in between 
there is misery, there is despair, there is sadness. 

In case you don't quickly recall that 15th chapter of the Gospel according to 
Matthew, let me refresh your memory. It's that chapter in which He tells first the 
story of a man with a hundred sheep. Now that's excitingi That's a happy note! A 
hundred sheep could constitute a small fortune for a shepherd in the day of Jesus — 
you think of it — a hundred sheep J That's a happy thought. 

....but somewhere in the middle of that story Jesus says that the 
shepherd had to spend his time and his energy going out and looking 
for one that was lost.... 
You may say to yourself, 99% — one ought to be able to go to sleep and get a good 
night's sleep with that. But Jesus was talking about a shepherd, with a shepherd's 
heart, with a concern for anything that might be lost, that wasn't where it belonged, 
that was out of relationship. 

The second story that He told: a woman ha,d ten silyer pieces „ Let the wheels 
go in your mind right now as the story is being told — where do you suppose she got 
them? Can you tell us, Jesus? Did they come from one lover, two loyers? Were they 
an inheritance? Tell us more, Jesus. 

...alright, says Jesus, you want to hear more? She had ten . 
That's a happy thought. One day she discovered one was missing, 
and all of the gladness became sadness as she turned the house 
upside-down looking for the one that she couldn't f indi . . . . 

He told a third story „ 

Notice the progression, if you want to put it that way ~ 

— one out of a hundred 

— one out of ten 

And now the hioman factor: "There was a man who had two sons ..." 


And as soon as the story-teller says "two sons" you begin to deal in similarities, 
and dis-similarities — cons-trasts and comparisons: — because anyone knows that members 
of a household are as different from one another aa day is from night. But a happy 
thought ~ he had two. 

And then He tells how one of them wilfully leaves home, squanders his living in 
the far country. It isn't so much that he wasted his money. It's the fact that he 
severed a relationship.... 

...and the other son? Do I haye to tell you this? — he might just 
as well have been in the far country, because he too was out of a 
relationship with his father. 

Now Jesus told these stories. You're not forgetting, are you, I said they began 

on a happy note, they ended on a happy note - but in between — this, is Jesus, the 

story-teller, the realist, who tells it as it is. He was not someone to come and gloss 
over the warts, and the unfortunate, and the ugly, and the untoward. He was a realist. 
He knew that He lived in a world where these things could happen o And you and I must 
come to grips with that. It is absolutely possible that one always faces life at some 
risk. Sooner or later we may have to discover that it never works out as well as we 
had hoped. Whenever you deal with people, and the freedom of the will, you run the 
risk of waste, inefficiency, misery. And ; the one word, the umbrella that embraces all 
of these, is sinfulness. So Jesus told it as it was. 

... a great story-teller, who said, "This is the way it is! You can 
start out beautifully — in fact that's the story of Creation, that's 
the story of man, that's your story, that's my story - - we begin in the 
Garden of Eden, the idyllic thing, a paradise. o.. . 

Life for man begins on a happy note. Even God was pleased, and He said "Enjoy 
it! — Make the most of it! Don't let anything happen to it!" But something did. 
Life began on a happy note. But you and I also know that it was meant to end on a 
happy note. For God says, "Even though in the meantime — all of this meantime — 
you may head for Hell, you were not meant for Hell." And even though the son may 
run away and go into the far country, you can only run so far! For man is stamped 
in the image of God, and man was made to come to himself. Man was meant to regain 
his senses, not to lose it forever. That's, the story of the Prodigal Son, that mar- 
velous statement, when in the far country "He came to himself"... 

...which is simply one way of saying, "it occurred to him 
who he was, and whose he was." 
...and that relationship could be re-established. That's the way Jesus told it. 


There's a lot of Hell in between, but mankind wasn't meant to go to Hello There 
is such a thing, says Jesus Christ, as restoration , as renewal , as redemption, as 
reconciliation - - that's the storyl Jesus was the master story-teller. He told it 
as He saw it. But He also told it as it could be^ He kept saying to us, this is 
the way it is, but it doesn't have to be that way! There can be a happy ending. 

Now all of this leads me to bring to your attention - - this is another in the 

series of sermons on the general theme of " Favorite -Texts of .Famous Persons " and 

the man to whom we pay tribute this morning, the Russian, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, botn in 

1821, died sixty years later one of the greatest story-tellers of all time. And 

significantly enough, his favorite Bible passage was this 15th chapter of the Gospel 
according to Luke, consisting of a marvelous story that Jesus told about the prodigal 
and the far country. For Dostoyevsky himself on more than one occasion had found 
himself in the far country, and knew that he didn't belong there „ And many of his 
novels reflect the kind of person who is. found in the far country ~ " Crime and Punish- 

ment" . . . " The Idiot " " The Possessed " " The Brothers Kamarazov " the 

theme is there again and ever so often; the wisdom of life and the emotions of the soul. 

I should tell you this: when it came. time for him to get formal academic training 
he studied engineering and the military. And then in his early 20 's he dabbled in 
politics, he became enamored by some new thoughts of a political trend that came out 
of France. Russia feared Western influence, and, he and about twenty others were in- 
dicted, they were sentenced to die. Now hear me - - they were brought to the place 
where they were stood up before the firing squad. Before the blind-folds were put 
over their eyes, they could see the caskets over in the corner in which their dead 
bodies would be placed. it was as traumatic as all of this. Then they were lined 
up: "Ready 1" "Aim!" . » . then the Commander said, "Don't fire." 
— the sentence was commuted, they w.ould not be killed, 
but they'd be sent off to Siberia to prison camp. 

Dostoyevsky never got over the trauma of being that close to death, or figura-- 
tively speaking, as, being that far into the far country. While he was in prison — 
listen to this, just to show you how God wprksl - - two women, nobly intentioned, 
came with Bibles in their hands and they slipped into Fyodor Dostoyevsky- s hands 
surreptitiously a copy of the New Testament — and whispered, "Read it! — every 
page." As soon as he had opportunity he turned the pages.. And when he came upon 
some money that was secreted there he thought, this is why they said. Read every page. 
But - - imprisoned as he was, it was his only reading material, and he read it with 
a terrific appetite. And the chapter that meant most to him was the 15th chapter of 
the Gospel according to Luke. For when he looked around and saw all the other people 


who ware imprisOneQ with him, the flotsam and the jetsum of humanity, he looked upon 
them as citizens from the far country, and he led himself to believe they were not 
meant to be there! He looked upon them as extraordinary people who were meant to be 
somewhere else. 

When he died - - listen to this - - forty thousand people walked behind his 
coffin to the church yard, so great was his influence in his day. The great story- 
teller, who also told it as it was, but not without some measure of hope. He talked 
about the far country but he also talked in glowing terms about home. 

Now as I am about to walk away from this sacred desk I must tell you that when 
I was a student in the Seminary at Gettysburg, one of my professors was Dr. Raymond 
Thomas Staub, the most intellectual of all the professors that I've ever had. He was 
gifted, he could take a sublime truth and clothe it in very simple terms.. As God 
gives me memory, to the day I die I'll want to recall how he began a sermon on the 
Prodigal Son. He began in this manner — you listen carefully, as I did — 

"... My sermon this morning," said he, "consists of four points." 
(remember now, he's preaching on the Prodigal Sonl 
" Point Number One : Home-. 
Point Number Two: Sick of Home. 

Point Number Three ; Homesick. 
Point Number Pour: Home. . . 

Tliat's the only story worth telling — realistically, and always with a note of recon- 
ciliation, redemption, the Gospel of Hope. 

I wouldn't want to live another day if I couldn't believe it, totally aware of 
the fact that the older I become the more I'm constrained to believe that the worst 
chapter in my life could yet be written ~ that's always a possibility. Ask anyone 
who's growing older. As poignant as any letter that I've read in recent days came to 
me yesterday, from a grand old an who just ^ two weeks ageaceiebrated his 86th birthday. 
And in that letter he pours out himself to his younger friend, "Raymond, they've taken 
away the keys to my car. i can't drive any more. Raymond, i read Saint Luke MESSENGER 
every week, I'd like to send you a check to help cover the cost, but i can't write a 
check. Someone else has power of attorney" - - at .85 years of age! it happened, and 
maybe it had to happen. But God bless him, he ends on a very positive note: 

"I think of you often, and you're always in my prayers." 

* * * 

May the peace of God that passes all understanding 
keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesuso Amen„ 
(transcribed as recorded) 


Sermon - Pastor Raymond Sftaheen 



(luke 2:41-52) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son JesTis 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

There is only one passage of Scripture that comes soonest to mind as I stand 
at the sacred desk on this day which we observe as the Festival of the Christian 
Home. You need to hear it read, the 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, 
it begins with the 41st verse: 

" Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the 
feast of the Passover 

And when he was twelve years old, they went up to 
Jerusalem after the custom of the feast . 

And when they had fulfilled the days , as they re- 
turned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; 
and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 

But they, supposing him to have been in the company, 
went a day's journey; and they sought him among their 
kinfolk and acquaintance. 

And when they found him not, they turned back again 
to Jerusalem, seeking him. 

And it came to pass, that after three days they 
found him in the temple , sitting in the modst of the 
doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 

And all that heard him were astonished at his under- 

standing and answers. 

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his 
mother said unto him. Son, why hast thou thus dealt 
with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee 

And he said unto them. How is it that ye sought me? 
wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 

And they understood not the saying which he spake 
unto them. 

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and 
was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these 
sayings in her heart. 

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in 
favor with God and man. 

I suppose if I were a modern-day psychologist I would tell you this morning 
that Mary had a problem child on her hands. How else can you explain that? Here 
He was at twelve years of age. He disappears out of sight, and when they find Him 
after three days, even though her heart may be filled with joy that she found her 


where she did, He simply gives her an answer that she doesn't quite understand, 
and she never was able to quite understand everything that He said, and everything 
that He did. But she kept them in her heart — which is simply to say, she did 
a great deal of praying. That's how you understand those words - - 

" She pondered them in her heart . " 

But I'm not a modern-day psychologist. Do I have to further introduce myself 
to you? If that should be necessary, let me tell you who I am. 

— I am a father. 

— I am a father-in-law. 

— I am a grandfather. 

— I am the son of my mother and of my father. 

— I am a pastor. By the grace of God I have been listening 

in on human hearts for more than four decades....! have 
been with people in various conditions and circumstances. 
I have been with them when they are good, I have been 
with them when they are bad. I have been with them when 
their joy has been exceedingly precious....! have been 
with them when they have been at their very, very best, 
and I have been with people when I've seen them teeter- 
ing on the very brink of Hell 

I have not come to sit in judgment on anyone. I stand among you as a pastor, and 

as a child of God. 

The question that needs to be asked today, then, as I stand with you in this 
way, bringing to bear all that I am: When is a home Christian? Hard to tell, 
really. For when is a person Christian? Just having your name on a church roll 
doesn't make you Christian. Just being baptized doesn't make you a Christian. Hard 
to tell sometimes when a person is really Christian. 

When is a home really Christian? - - hard to tell. One thing we know for cer- 
tain, just by hanging one of those old-fashioned framed mottoes on the wall won't 
do it, I could tell you that from experience, of course I can. When Winifred and 
I were first married, in an antique shop we found it — they used to grace all of 
those Christian homes decades ago. We placed it there in the dining room in the 
three parsonages in which we have been privileged to live in our years together. 
It's that antique frame within which those words are fashioned and cut out of card- 
board — delicately done, I dare say — you'd be pleased with it. It reads like 


this : " Christ is the Head of This House , 

The unseen Guest at Every Meal, 
The Silent Listener to Every Conversation " 

And even up in the country we have had hanging for years a similar one, framed metal, 

that reads , a quotation from Joshua : 

" As for me and my house , 

We will serve the Lord. " 

But with all the strength that I can command this morning, I have to tell you, it 
takes more than beautifully framed words to make a home Christian. But there are 
yard-sticks that we can use. There are measuring rods. 

Yesterday we had three weddings in Saint Luke. I still hear ringing in my ears 

the prayer by which we concluded the last of the three weddings, a prayer that's been 

incorporated in the order that we use here in Saint Luke. Let me read it for you. 

...the couple has just been married, they've made their 

promises, they have been pronounced husband and wife in 

the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy 

Spirit. Then we pray: 

"0 GOD, our dwelling-place in all generations: 
Look with favor upon the homes of our land; enfold 
husbands and wives, parents and children, in the 
bonds of your pure love; and so bless our homes, 
that they may be a shelter for the defenseless, a 
bulwark for the tempted, a resting-place for the 
weary, and a foretaste of our eternal home in you; . . " 

When I die and go to Heaven, and I believe that I will — not by any saving grace of 
my own, but because of my fervent trust in Jesus Christ — I should like very much to 
meet in Heaven the person who wrote these lines — a perfectly beautiful prayer, be- 
cause here in these words, whoever first wrote them gives us some idea of what God 
had in mind when He had the family in mind, that within a home there ought to be a 
possibility of the reflection of Heaven. That's exactly from the Christian perspec- 
tive — what a home is meant to be: a chance to reflect a bit of Heaven. 

But I am fully aware of it, you know that I am, that any number of you could 
stand right up, right now, and interrupt me. And if you wanted to, you could say 
without any hesitation, and with all the anguish that we would quickly sense: — "I've 
lived in hell! For what I've experienced within the confines of my family life have 
been a far cry from Heaven." ... I am fully aware of that. 

But I also know it wasn't meant to be that way. And I also know that I cannot 
allow myself to be crippled by the fact that it happens that way more often than we 
would care to accept, ever admit. 


We take for our prototype within the Christian church that home in Nazareth. 
It's done so handsomely — Mary's problem child — what happened to Him?. . (and 
I say that advisedly) . . what happened to Him? He went down to Nazareth — He 
went home where He belonged. And He was subject to His parents. 

— when is a home Christian? 

a home is Christian when there ' s the kind of 

authority that commands respect 
And that's exactly what He had in that home in Nazareth. 

You ask me what that home in Nazareth was like - - I could spend a half-hour 
telling you all the things that that home in Nazareth did not have.... 

— it didn't have running water 

— it didn't have electricity 

— it didn't have a bathroom 

— it didn ' t have three rooms , it didn ' t have a two-car garage 

— it didn't have television, it didn't have a radio, it 

didn't have a micro-wave oven 

— it didn't have rugs on the floor, it didn't have a dish- 

washer, it didn't have a clothes -washer 

Name all the modern gadgetry, it didn't have a single one of them. But what that 
home did have was a couple of people who together commanded respect in the eyes of 
their children. And this child was subject to those parents. 

And hear this tremendous truth - - how do you translate it — freely — reck- 
lessly - - the net result of what happened in that home in Nazareth: 

" And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature , 
and in favor with God and man . . . " 

That's simply to say, — He grew upl And He grew up the way He was meant to grow 
up. And He was able to grow because that home in Nazareth provided the environment. 
What is essential for growth? You can't have growth without the proper environment. 
Mary and Joseph, fortunately, were able to provide that environment — together. 

No matter how you read that text: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature - -" 
— increased - - that means He matured, that means there was growth — perceptible 
growth, from one level to another - "..'in favor with God, and with man." 

As a Pastor, when a couple come to be married, I remind myself I'm a Pastor, 
I'm not just a marrying parson, so I don't simply say, 

"When do you want to be married? — let me see if 
I can fit it into our calendar — fine ! You come , 
we'll perform the ceremony ..." ah, no. 


You come for an interview, as any niamber of you people right now, within the hearing 
of my voice can attest. You may fault me for this — I don't have them come back 
for 6, 8, 10 interviews, but I don't speak disparagingly of those who do. But I 
make much of the quality of the experience of the time that we spend together in 
the initial interview - - because I make certain that I ask the correct questions. 
And how we may have to deal with those questions from that point on may have a dif- 
ferent story.. ..but I'm in duty bound to ask those important questions, and they're 
always four in number: 

1 - Why do you want to be married? 

2 - Why do you think your marriage will succeed? 

3 - How do you feel about children? 

4 - Where does the church figure in the future as far as 

your relationship together is concerned? 

I have little patience with people who sit down as therapists or interrogists , 
who only ask questions. I would never want to go to a physician if all he did was 

ask me: "Where does it hurt? how long have you been sick? when do you think 

you got this problem?" From the Christian perspective there is more than simply 
asking questions. If a Christian is worth the name of what he represents, he's in 
duty bound to help people get at the right answer. And I've discovered this to be 
true, because any number of people, God bless them, embarrassed, awkward as they 
may be in relating to the Pastor in this moment - - I don't mind telling you — I 
do my best to help them come up with the right answers. So when they say, as I 
ask them, "Why do you want to be married? " - - "We're in love" ... do you think 
for a single minute I let them stop at that point? I say, 

"What do you mean by love?" 
From the Christian perspective, to love a person is to meet the need of that person, 
not just to be swept off romantically. 

Let it be said and said repeatedly, the big thing in marriage is not romance. 
And don't you think for a single minute that I don't want Winifred to be as attrac- 
tive as possible! - - don't you think for a single minute that I don't like soft 
music and candlelight! I am an incurable romanticist. But the big thing is not 
romance - - - fidelity J honor J „ commitment ] When through the Christian perspec- 
tive you say you love, that means "I will meet your need." 

I have said it on more than one occasion as two people stand in front of me — 


"... there may be days when one of you will be weak, 
there may be days when one of you will be strong, but 
you will never have a day when you won ' t need each other . " 

The second question: Why do you think your marriage will succeed? 
Listen to me now - - no matter how they come up to answer, I always have to say to 
that one, "Come now, the only real answer to that question is 'We don't know.'" 
None of us knows if we're going to make it. We're human. We're stained by original 
sin, and marriage is not made up of two perfect people — marriage is made up of two 
imperfect people. So as they answer that question I have to help them answer in the 
correct way! We don't know if it's going to succeed. And then I stick with them 
and I say, "But will you want it to succeed? — and will you recognize the fact that 
it can't succeed on its own, you need the help of God? 

. that's why we've written into our marriage service that 

we use here in Saint Luke Church — you don't simply say, 
"I do" .... but you answer, "I will, by God's help." 
None of us can handle it by ourselves. We know that, and we need to admit it. 

I can't take time to talk with you now about why I feel that the question 
about children is so important , or why I feel that the relation- 
ship to the church is so important , because I only know that 
even marriage needs the correct environment in which to grow, 
and we get that environment through the church, which is God's 
bigger family. 

I want to do something that I've never done before, I want to read for you 
somebody else's sermon as I conclude this sermon. I heard it myself, and I was 
deeply moved. I wasn't there, but it was televised, on the 29th day of July, 1981, 
from a place, when I go to London, I always want to visit, the majestic cathedral 
of St. Paul. The occasion: the wedding of a prince and a princess. 

Winifred and I have a very dear friend who visited St. Paul's not too long 
after this wedding. She was the only person in St. Paul's at the particular time 

and she tripped merrily down the aisle, as though she were Diana the bride that 

remains in every woman's heart can understand that. This is the sermon: 
"Here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made, the 
Prince and the Princess on their wedding day. But fairy 
tales usually end at this point with the simple phrase: 

'They lived happily ever after.' 
this may be because fairy stories regard marriage as 


an anti-climax, after the romance of courtship. This 
is not the Christian view. Our faith sees the wedding 
day not as a place of arrival, but the place where the 
adventure really begins ..." 

(you're not forgetting — I am interposing this now — 
you're not forgetting what appears in "Pages in a 
Diary" in this issue of Saint Luke MESSENGER, are you? 
— the words of the old rabbi: "Love is the result of 
marriage, and not the cause of it." ) 

"... There is an ancient Christian tradition that every 
bride and groom on their wedding day are regarded as a 
royal couple. To this day in the marriage service of the 
Eastern Orthodox Chturch crowns are held over the man and 
the woman to express a conviction that as husband and wife 
they are the kings and queens of Christ. As it says of 
humankind in the Bible, 'Thou crownest him with glory and 
honor and didst set him over the works of thy hands. " 

On a wedding day is made clear that God does not in- 
tend us to be puppets , but chooses to work through us , and 
especially through our marriages to create the furute of 
His world. 

Marriage is first of all a new creation for the part- 
ners themselves. As husband and wife live out their vows, 
loving and cherishing one another, sharing life's splendors 
and miseries, adjustments and set-backs, they will be trans- 
formed in the process. A good marriage is a life, as the 
poet Edwin Muir says, 'where each must ask from each what 
each most wants to give , and each awaits in each what else 
would never be. ' But any marriage which is turned in upon 
itself, in which the bride and groom simply gaze obsessively 
at one another, goes sour after a time. A marriage which 
really works is one which works for others. Marriage has 
both a private place and a public importance. If we solve 
all our economic problems and fail to build loving families, 
it would profit us nothing, because the family is the place 

where the future is created, good and full of love or 



"... Those who are married and live happily ever after 
the wedding day — if they persevere in the real adventure 
which is the royal task of creating each other and creating 
a more loving world. That is true of every man and woman 
undertaking marriage. It must be especially true of this 
marriage in which are placed so many hopes . 

Much of the world is in the grip of hopelessness. Many 
people seem to have surrendered to a fatalism about the so- 
called inevitability of life — cruelty, injustice, poverty, 
bigotry and war, and seem to have accepted the cynical view 
of marriage itself. But all couples on their wedding day are 
royal couples, and stand to the truth that we help shape this 
world and are not just its victims. All of us are given the 
power to make the future more in God's image and to be kings 
and queens of love. 

This is our prayer for Charles and Diana; May the burdens 
we lay upon them be matched by the love with which we support 
them in the years to come . And however long they live , may 
they ever know that when they pledged themselves to each other 
before the altar of God, they were surrounded and supported 
not by mere spectators, but by the sincere affection and the 
active power of prayer of millions of friends. Thanks be to 
God. ..." 

That's the note on which I end. Not every marriage is going to end perfectly, 
but wherever there is a couple who started out, we need to offer them our love 
and our prayers. And as Mary, the mother of our Lord - she never gave up praying. 
This I most certainly believe. 

* * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Sunday After The Ascension June 3, 1984 

FAVORITE TEXTS - Thomas Carlyle 

(Romans 8:28) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

I am reasonably certain that I have never done this before as I stand at this 
sacred desk — give you a barrage of nothing less than the very personal questions. 
Here's the first one, and presumably many of you would never dream that such a ques- 
tion would be asked from a pulpit such as this at a time such as this — a very per- 
sonal question: Where would you like to be buried? 

— The time will come, you know, when you will die. It's a salutary thing to 

give some thought as to the place where you'd like to have your body put to 


I have my moments when I honestly believe that I can tell a great deal about a person 
when answers are given to such questions as I am now asking, a very personal question: 

Where would you like to be buried? 

Another very personal question. Think now, as far back as you can remember: 

What remains as a very impressionable thing from the 
days of your childhood in your relationship to your 

...a very, personal question. You were young once, you know. You did spend time with 

your father, you did spend time with your mother. And out of that experience can you 

draw upon something now that you would label exceedingly precious, so much so that it 

has held you in good stead throughout your entire life-time? A personal question. 

This personal question: Suppose you were going back into time now in your rela- 
tionship with your parents, to that significant period which any number of our young 
people have just approached — 17, 18-year bracket? High school is over, post-high 
school days ahead, a brand new and different chapter about to be written. Whatever 
your age now, if you've passed that period already, look back and remember if there is 
anything significant that you remember . . . .and here again, hold you in good stead ? 

Why do I ask you these questions? Because I believe they're important, and be- 
cause, in all frankness, a person becomes according to the things that he remembers. 
And blessed indeed is that person who can draw upo n other years anything that can pro- 
vide a stabilizing influence for the present moment. 

(Thomas Carlyle) (2) 

This is another in the series of sermons based upon " Favorite Texts of Famous 
Persons." The questions that I've raised can be answered out of the life of Thomas 
Carlyle and be answered in a very gratifying way. Thomas Carlyle remembered, when he 
looked back, when he was 17, 18 years of age, to that day when the decision was made 
that he would go off to the University of Edinburgh, which was an eighty-mile walk, 
or journey, from where he lived. He remembered. There's something in a man that re- 
members what had been. 

He remembered how, at that particular time in his life, his parents — his father 
on the one side, his mother on the other side — walked with him every step of the way 
for at least two or more miles as he left home to face that brand new and different 
chapter in his life when presumably he would be on his own. 

...a person becomes according to what he can remember... 
He went back as far as he could remember the days of his childhood, and remembered some- 
thing very special. 

But before I tell you what that was, let me tell you how he answered the question: 
Where do you want to be buried? Lord Beaconsfield at 80 years of age came to Thomas 
Carlyle and said, "I am happy to tell you that you're being offered a peerage — you 
will be named a member of the House of Lords, and you will also receive a stipend that 
could be to your advantage for the rest of your years." 
He refused. 

Later on in life he was told that because of his distinguished career he could 
have the privilege of being buried in Westminster Abbey. 
He refused. 

He had answered the question earlier. Where do I want to be buried? His answer was: 
"I want to be buried beside my parents." 

You can tell a great deal, you can draw the measure of a person, I dare say, by 
the answer given to questions such as these. So strong was the influence of the parents 
of Thomas Carlyle upon this man, who those in a position of authority could say had the 
greatest moral influence, through the written word, of any person in his generation. 

Check that our in the Encyclopedia Brittanica for yourself, check that out by any of 
his biographers -- let me say it again: no one in his day had greater moral influence 
through the written word than Thomas Carlyle. 

Now, going back and remembering to the days of his childhood something exceedingly 
precious that stabilized him as long as he lived — what was it? Two things: his 
father, a Scotsman, conducting evening prayers . Secondly, his mother reading him the 
Bible arid teaching him to place high value on one text iii particular . It's the 28th 

(Thomas Carlyle) (3) 

verse of the 8th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It reads like this: 

"... tat we know that all things work together 
for good to those who love God, to those who are 
called according to his purpose ..." 

...his favorite text. 

It would be interesting to see, when this week's MESSENGER comes into your home, 
when the list of Confirmands appears on the front page, and opposite each name the Con- 
firmation verse which each Confirmand had chosen. When your Pastor conducted the per- 
sonal interviews at Bethany a number of weeks ago, one of the things we most certainly 
dealt with as we confronted each Confirmand: What is your Confirmation verse? You see, 
that was part of their assignment — to read the Bible and to find somewhere in the 
Scriptures one particular verse that could be their own very special verse 

— that whenever they came to receive the Holy 
Communion they might recite it. . . . 

— whenever they came to church and sat down 
reverently, they might recite it.... 

— whenever they might have their evening prayers, 
they might recite it 

— whenever a moment of critical need would arise, 
they could draw upon it . 

It's gratifying to hear the answers when we put the question to them: Why did you 

choose the verse that you did? I should have gone back and just checked for myself the 

last ten years, to see how many youngsters chose this one: Romans 8:28: 

" For we know that all things work together for 
good to those who love God, who are called ac- 
cording to his purpose. " 

Now there's a text for you. 

Come now, how does it rate with you? It was Thomas Carlyle 's favorite. Let me re- 
peat it: 

"For we know that all things work together for 
good to those who love God, to those who are 
called according to his purpose." 

Does that text really do anything for you? Would you be willing to stake your life on 

it? Thomas Carlyle did. Presumably it could be your favorite text, if, realistically 

speaking, you never had to deal with the mean and the contemptible, you never had to 

deal with the down-right wicked, and the base. Such things in life do get in our way, 

you know, and what good can come from them? The text does say all things work together 

for good. Surely we'd have no difficulty in accepting this text if life brought us only 

the pleasant and the profitable, the agreeable and the acceptable. Surely we could make 

courage of such. But when you come to the debilitating and to the destructive, and to 

anything and everything that's negative - - seldom if ever can you see a plus in anything 

(Thomas Carlyle) (4) 

like that — at least while they occur . When we have to both experience and to endure, 
or better still, to try to see it from God's perspective - - which is simply to say, to 
move on , to pass through, to get ready for the next chapter — trusting and honestly be- 
lieving that the ultimate in life is good. 

Maybe that's why, honestly now, we have so much difficulty in our prayer life. I'm 
going to tell you two things now, as I have been transparent when I stand at the sacred 
desk. Try not to fault me overmuch for my honesty. You'll find no difficulty with the 
first thing I'm going to tell you: I can't remember when I didn't pray. Prayer has al- 
ways been a very meaningful experience in my life. 

But secondly: I need to tell you that while I know a certain measure of assurance 
in praying, the older I become the more I have to deal with difficulties in praying. And 
I think I know one reason why, and here at some risk I'll be just as honest.... 

...In accepting and evaluating any number of prayers that 
I've offered, I have presumed to tell God the answer that I 
expect, and most certainly the answer that I want — failing 
to appreciate the fact that God may have something else in 


With all the strength that my soul can command, let me tell you this: it's rank presumption 
on the part of any of us to presume to know the mind of God. We can only trust in His ul- 
timate goodness, and surely depend upon His mercy. This 8th chapter of the Epistle to the 
Romans is a magnif leant chapter. You ought to read it carefully and earnestly. Before 
Paul came to this 28th verse he's talking, a few verses ahead of this, on this whole mat- 
ter of praying. And I know a measure of comfort in the light of what I've just told you: 
Paul makes the admission that we really don't know how to pray correctly, or to pray 
aright — that we get in the way of our prayers. And then he goes on to something abso- 
lutely superb, and he says, "But the Holy Spirit takes over and makes intercession in our 
behalf." We have that kind of God! Fumble and falter as we may in our praying, we can 

trust God for His Holy Spirit that takes over where we fail as much as God saying to 

us, "You can't understand, you're incapable of getting the whole picture." Nothing un- 
usual about that. 

When Jesus was here on earth, on more than one occasion, particularly in the latter 
period of His life. He once said to His disciples, "I have so much more to tell you, but 
you can't absorb it now. There is so much more in the picture but you're incapable of 
getting the whole picture at this particular point in your life." Now do you see why 
the Apostle Paul says, "Please believe me, there is no substitute for experience." Paul 
says. That's exactly what he's saying when he says " We know ." 

...not that "We think . . " ...not that "We imagine . . " 

(Thomas Carlyle) (5) 

not even that "We hope . . " He said, " We know that all things work together 

for good to those who love the Lord." 

Thomas Carlyle had eight brothers and sisters. One of them wrote him and said that 
his mother was critically ill and having a very difficult period in her life. What do 
you suppose Thomas Carlyle did? He wrote her a letter, as much as to say, "Mama, remem- 
ber please what you taught us! Remember that verse of Scripture that you asked me to 
memorize: 'All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, who are called 
according to his purpose' - - - Mother, remember you used to say to us that the 'tender 
mercies of the Lord never fail.'? What a gratifying thing it must have been for her to 
have him feed back to her that by which she had first nurtured him. 

But you see, it's difficult for us to believe that all things can work for good. 
Some of us have been having a very critical period in our lives the last three months. 
But we know who we are, and we trust the mercy of the Lord and trust His wisdom. Let me 
give you a very simple, a very personal illustration: Winifred and I just celebrated a 
wedding anniversary as we recall that May 25, 1940, at two o'clock in the afternoon. If 
someone would have come to Winifred at that moment and said, "Winifred, Raymond just 
promised to be faithful to you. Do you know that he will?" And in all honesty Winifred 
would have answered that person who would ask such a terrible question: "No, I don't know. 
But I trust him, and so we're going to face the future together." That's what love does. 
Love always invites us to trust. Love is built on trust. That's what this text is tell- 
ing us — "All things can work together for good to those who love the Lord. " Trust Him 
with the good and the bad, trust Him with the pleasant and the painful. That's what the 
text is saying. And Paul out of his experience says, "I know this to be true." 

Now some among us perhaps haven't reached that point. But we know we should. And 
we remain filled with hope. The very practical aspect of the interpretation of this 
text is that we are meant to learn from anything that happens to us. There was a man who 
became critically ill, and in the east they said, "You'll have to change your environment, 
you'll have to go west and live in a different climate." He thought his whole world had 
fallen apart. And while he was someplace out west, idling away his time, bored to death, 
he started working with a hat, a broad-brimmed hat, that for the first time could protect 
people against the fierce rays of the western sun. It was John B. Stetson - - something 

terrible had happened to his life he tried to learn from it, that some good could 

come from it. 

A man by the name of Arthur Fuller set out to be — that's right, a brush salesman. 
He failed. Despondent and distraught, about to give up — one of life's negatives. . .and 
then he said to himself, What can I learn from this? Why did I fail? Was it my attitude? 
Or maybe it was the product that I had, that it wasn't qulti'-good enough? He put the two 

(Thomas Carlyle) (6) 

together, got his own wire, got his own wood, got his own little machine - - and made 
his own Fuller Brush, from one of life's negative experiences. 

You want to hear something more, yet that you'll find difficult to believe? It's 
a matter of historical record: The man was sentenced to die, by hanging. He was de- 
clared an enemy of the State. And as they were leading him toward the scaffold he fell 
and broke his leg. Some strange reaction - - they had mercy and said it's a shameful 
thing to hang a man with a broken leg ... so they,' said, we'll wait until it heals. 
While he was waiting to have the broken leg heal, the king died, and another person came 
to the throne — who pardoned the man! You see, we never know , but we're meant to trust. 

" For we know that all things work together for 
good to those who love the Lord, who are called 
according to his purpose . . " 

God's ultimate purpose prevails - - come wind or weather, come pleasant things, or 
painful. It takes a bit of doing to believe it. But I for one can't afford to submit 
to the alternative nor, I dare say, can you. This I most certainly believe. 

(Transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Day of Pentecost June 10, 1984 

(Acts 2:1, 2, 14) 

POSSESS US, GOD, by Your Holy Spirit, 
that giving some attention to the inter- 
pretation of Your Word we may better 
understand it. Through Jesus Christ, 
Thy Son, our Lord, Who when He came, 
came preaching. Amen. 

The sermon bears the title: " A Day To Remember ;" and the text: 

" When the day of Pentecost had come, they 
were all together in one place, and suddenly 
a sound came from heaven like the rush of a 
mighty wind, and it filled all the house where 
they were sitting . . . 

and also this text: 

" But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted 
up his voice and addressed them . . . 

Something wonderful had happened. They had been told that something wonderful was 
goirg to happen. But human as we are, we do have our way of not taking Jesus at His 
word. We may not intend that to happen, but again and ever so often that's just the 

way it comes out. He either tells us something that we hear, and ignore or He tells 

us something, and not being able to fully understand it, we don't take it seriously. 
And all the while He's telling us something. It's the nature of God as revealed in Jesus 
Christ never to be fully and completely silent. He always has something in mind — and 
it's always for our good. 

What happened on that day of Pentecost was an excellent example of what He had 

promised and what He had predicted came true and was every bit as wonderful as He 

said it would be! Now, you can't possibly appreciate this day that's meant to be remem- 
bered unless we go back and try to get it in perspective. Let's begin with Jesus. God 

sent Him here on earth at age 30 He began a ministry that took Him around from place 

to place, a ministry that was meant to touch people's lives and to have the Heavenly 
Father become increasingly real to them, to appeal to the potential that lies within 
them, to waken within them the realization that they are now — not at some future time — 
the children of God, and that they have a Heavenly Father. 

He came preaching. He came teaching. He came performing miracles. And He recruited 
a limited number of people who were meant to be with Him. They were called His disciples. 


Every single one of them was human. They observed Him, they listened to Him, He prayed 
with them - - they shared three wonderful years together. So far, so good. Then came 
the last chapter to be written in His relationship with them. You remember the story. 
You know your Bible very well. How does the record give it to us? One denied, one 
betrayed . . . they all forsook Him and fled! But He had made certain promises to 
them. He had told them certain things. He had asked that they might remember them. 

. When the crucifixion was over, three days later the 

resurrection experience — He appears , in glory, triumphant- 
ly, magnificently! 

It's interesting to note that the angel gave a directive that when the discovery 
was made that the grave was empty, there was one person in particular that Jesus wanted 

to have the word gotten to: Peter. "Make sure Peter knows" - - "Make sure Peter gets 

the word." 

Now, in this time, after the crucifixion and perhaps even after the resurrection...'re not forgetting, are you, that they were human, every bit as human as we are. 
The crucifixion had happened, it was a dastardly thing to do to their friend. They were 
part of it. When something as terrible as that happens, two things will occur: 

— people start blaming themselves. They think of what they 
could have done, they think of how they might have measured up, 

— The other thing is, when something unfortunate and as dastardly 
as that kind of thing happens, human as they are, they start blaming 
other people. 

I can readily understand how those other disciples could have said to Peter: "Peter, if 
only you hadn't behaved the way you did! You might have saved the day for us because 
we were leaning on you. But you denied!" You see, they could have talked that way, 
they were human. That's the way we talk — we blame ourselves, we blame other people. 
It's so human. 

I never cease to marvel, the older I become, as I read the Scriptures — not only 
at the love of God but the wisdom of God. Jesus, knowing His disciples and knowing 
them well, said to them, "Stay! Stay together. No matter how difficult it may be, you 
stay together — and one day, I'm promising you now, if you stay together and you think 
about me, I'll give you my Spirit, fully and completely." 


That day came. It was the day of Pentecost. Read about it in the 
second chapter of the book of the Acts of the Apostles as it was read for you as one 
of the Lessons. They were all together — they were in one place — and then, as 
Jesus had promised, the Spirit of God possessed every single one of them. And they 
were caught up by it. They no longer thought about themselves. They no longer thought 
about their differences. They only thought about one thing: each one of them was an 
object of God's love and each one of them now was being visited by God's Spirit. Some- 
thing of that kind had never happened before . 

Anybody who has studied the doctrine of the Holy Spirit knows, and knows full 
well, that this is not the first time the Spirit was operative in the world! The 
Spirit was operative before, but as certain prophets maintained, it was only upon cer- 
tain people that God's Spirit came fully and completely and perfectly. Now, on the 
day of Pentecost, as they followed the directive of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came equally 
to every single one of them — no one got more nor less than anybody else! And that's 
wonderful. And it all happened because they remembered Jesus' directive, that they 
should think about Him. 

Now that's where Peter comes into the picture. You know, when something happens, 
people say, "What happened?" It's an interesting thing as I have been reading this 
second chapter all week — morning and night — in anticipation of being with you today: 
bewildered. . .confused. . .amazed. When something happens, that's our reaction when it's 
something as traumatic as that! And then when we're astounded by the happening, people 

try to describe it to somebody else and no two people can do it alike! That's even 

evident in the Scriptures 

— somebody said, "It was like this ..." 

— somebody said, "It appeared ..." 

...that means, "We're not quite sure, it seems to us that's 

the way it was — it was apparent to me." 
Then after you go through that stage, somebody says, "Well, what does it mean?" Maybe 
it isn't so important as to what had happened as to what do we make of it? 

I never cease to marvel at how much applied psychology is in the Scriptures. And 
then when people are talking back and forth, and the air is charged with emotion, God be 
praised, if there can be somebody like Peter, who stands up and tries to identify all 
the issues, and tries to bring what's meant to be the centrality of the focus. And 
that's exactly what Peter did. And happy indeed are any of us when we find ourselves 
in a situation like that, when some clear voice can be heard. 


And then Peter lays it on the line. He tells it exactly as it happened, he 
doesn't mince words. But all the while he's doing this, he's talking about how wonder- 
ful God is, he's talking about what God has done, he recited history. He brings to 
their attention how God has been active and operative in their lives. He gets them 
thinking, not about themselves, but about God . And whenever people start focusing to- 
gether on God's love and God's wisdom, wonderful things are always bound to happen. 

So there you have it, you see a day to remember — because they followed 

the directive of their Lord. They kept thinking about Him, and His purpose, and how He 

had acted in their behalf, and how His love would not fail them: "It's wonderful! 

we're made free! we're released.!" 

In some churches on a day like today the congregation gathers outside, at the 
close of the service, and theyte given a bunch of balloons, helium-filled, and they're 

released and they go ever upward — freely — as they drift hither and yon free 

spirits, when they're made free. We're meant to be made free, to rejoice in the Lord. 

The founder of the Salvation Army is buried in Westminster Abbey. A simple- 
minded preacher came to that marker signifying the fact that William Booth was laid to 
rest there. He was on his knees when somebody went by, and he was heard to pray a very 
simple prayer. What was he doing? He was looking back and he was remembering how God 
had released His power in this world through one person, the founder of the Salvation 
Army — and all the good that was let loose in this world as that person made himself 

responsive to the Spirit and all that that simple, humble-minded preacher kneeling 

at that grave could say was this : 

"0 God, do it again!... do it again!... do it again!" 
So on this day we remember what happened and we in all truth can say, "Do it again, 
God — here — and among us." This I most certainly believe. 

A day to remember? Happy indeed are those of you who look back and remember, who 
made a promise to Jesus Christ on the day of your Confirmation. And blessed indeed are 
those who every now and then look back and remember promises that were made, and how God 
has helped us to keep those promises. We can't possibly have you gather today as we 
think of the young people who are going to make their promises at 5:00 o'clock without 
asking you to look back and remember the promises you made, and as you remember them, per- 
chance now you are willing to renew it. So, therefore, I put the question to you ~ you 
who once promised the Lord, to serve Him faithfully: at this particular stage in your 
life, whatever your condition or circumstance, do you commit yourself anew to Jesus Christ 
and do you promise to serve Him with all your heart? If so, answer: Yes, by the help of 
God. ( ) 


The Father in Heaven for Jesus' sake renew and increase 
in thee the gift of the Holy Ghost, to thy growth 
in grace, to thy strengthening in faith, to thy 
patience in suffering and to the blessed hope of 
everlasting life. Amen. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Sbaheen 

Confirmation Service - 5;00 P.M. Pentecost - June 10, 1984 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

I would indeed be less than honest if I did not tell you that my heart was 
filled with joy when the decision was made that I could have the privilege of 
standing at this sacred desk for this particular service. My heart was gladdened 
for any one of a number of reasons, for the preaching of the Confirmation Sermon 
this year is very special to me. 

If it's a title that you want for the sermon, here it is: " The Set Of The 

Soul " - - and the text, already chosen by a member of the Confirmation Class as 

one that could be very special to him all the days of his years: the 10th verse 

of the 2nd chapter of the Book of the Revelation: 

"... Be thou faithful unto death, and 

I will give you a crown of life . . " 

Do you remember how it is in Rodgers and Hammerstein' s "Carousel"? — the 
young man and young woman day-dream about how wonderful their life could be to- 
gether, in the lyrics which they sing comes this line: "When today is a long time 
ago" - - so lovers think of the passing of the years, and always dream of even 
brighter and better days yet to come. The future does unfold - - and every day, 
every day - - has a tomorrow. 

But what also needs to be remembered is that every day has a yesterday. 

Mary Ann Shepherd, a daughter of a parsonage, in appreciation for her years here 

at Saint Luke, once gave us a sampler which now hangs on the wall in one of the 

rooms at the parsonage at 919 Highland Drive. It reads like this: 


....which is simply to suggest that today determines tomorrow, all other things 

being equal. 

I am always troubled when I read some verses of Scripture. Some gladden my 
heart. .. .some sadden my heart. I've never been that happy when I've come upon 


this verse that refers to a person who ended his relationship with Jesus Christ 
by this reference: 

"... he went to his own place . . " 
It wasn't a very complimentary reference to that man, for that man was one of 
the Twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot. 

Each of us has his own eccentricities, of course one does. One of my eccen- 
tricities that I confess to you in this moment is being a bit uncomfortable when 
I find myself in the presence, not of 13 people, but of 12. I've never been hung- 
up on that "13" business. But when I find myself numbered as the 12th person, I 
do a great deal of soul-searching. .. .because I do remember how one out of Twelve, 
as far as the Master was concerned, ended up. 

I'm eternally grateful in the years I have been able to spend with you that 
when I approach the altar I'm constantly confronted by twelve figures carved into 
oak: the Master and His men — disciples whom He had chosen, just as you are being 
chosen. Your number has been considerably greater - - He had to get along with 
far fewer in number than what we are able to get along with here in Saint Luke — 
He had only twelve. But among the twelve there is one who is dismissed as far as 
Scripture is concerned - — the only reference that remains to be made of him after 
he had finished his course : 

"... he went to his own place . . " 

What shall we make of this way of putting it? Are we to believe that in the 

final analysis each one of us ends up very much where he wants most to be? - - 

- - do we really chart our own course? 

- - do we really set our own sail? 

- - do we really determine our own fate? 

We've made much of this as far as you are concerned, members of this year's 
Confirmation Class. At the very beginning, when we met with you this year we gave 
you to understand that you would not have to be comfirmed — you could make the 
choice not to be confirmed. But we did say: if you chose to be confirmed you would 
make that decision on your own. There were those of us who were hoping and praying 
how the decision would come out, and we were surrounded by your loved ones, your 
family and your friends and all who have nurtured you in the faith — there was no 
question how we hoped you would answer. But we could not answer for you. To all 
intents and purposes there comes a moment, which is followed by other moments. 


when a person sets his course and determines the way he will go. 

A wise man once observed that there is a principle here which works in our 
lives. We do go, each one to his own place — we find our own level according to 
the secret desire or motivation which is in our hearts. We gather around us the 
people with whom we want to be.... we find friends who are one-with-us in spirit . . 
. . .we read the books that we^ want to read 
...and if at all possible, we go to the places 

where we want to go 
. . .we turn the channel on the television set to the 

program we^ want to see 

It can be said we make our own world, it can be simply put in that manner. 

Still as of old, each one goes to his own place. 

— one may seek for money - one may seek for pleasure 

— one may desire to serve his fellow-men - 

one may decide to exploit them 

— one may decide to make the most of what life will give - 

one may decide to be victimized by circumstances 

Oliver Wendell Holmes, bless his soul, compares the course of two rivers — 

they rise in the same mountain-side, but they flow in different directions, until 

a whole continent divides them by the waters. So people take their different ways 

in life according to the set of their souls. The poet put it this way: 

"From the same cradle-side. 

From the same mother's knee. 
One to the lone darkness and frozen tide. 
One to the placid sea . . " 

That sounds, wouldn't you say, as though we pretty much determine the circxmstances 

in which we eventually find ourselves? It's an awesome fact, to say the least. 

It could be, my friend, that no matter where you may be right now, look care- 
fully - - you're probably there amid the circumstances that surround you because 
at one time or another you either chose to head in that direction, or you allowed 
yourself to drift. You are where you are because you allowed yourself to drift in 
that direction, or you made the terrible decision that that's where you wanted to 

For those of you who are familiar with the Southwest, there's a road marker. 


The upright post has two arms on it. Try to visualize it now - - 

— the one side says ALBUQUERQUE 

— the other side points : LOS ANGELES 

....and at that particular point the traveler has to make a decision: you'll either 

end up in Los Angeles or you'll end up in Albuquerque. And if you're not sure 

where you might want to go you might even flip a coin to decide in which direction 
you're going to travel - - - but even the flipping of the coin does not allow you 
to escape from the element of responsibility. You can't have it both ways — you 
can't be in Albuquerque and Los Angeles at the same time! It's one... or the other. 
And there's always the element of responsibility in the making of the choices which 
cannot be escaped. 

I have little patience with so-called therapeutic measures which are always 
trying to excuse people from the element of responsibility. God endowed us with 
the capability of making a choice. A man or a woman is never as much as a man or 
a woman is meant to be aside from the fact that when he or she brings honor and 
glory to God in loving and serving Him — as when he exercises the freedom to do 
so. God did not make you as puppets, to pull a string and to have you say, "Yes, 
Master. .. .No, Master" - - He made you that out of your free will you could set the 
course. And He offered you that opportunity because He loved you. 

What may be true in the realm of circumstance can be true very much as far 

as character is concerned: we become what we are according to our hea rts - - 

" Keep thy heart with all diligence for 
out of it are the issues of life. " 

What we secretly desire is that we become. And brace yourself for this: generally 

speaking, life has a way of giving us what we really want if not by actual 

condition, then certainly by fashioning the character that seeks such things. 

I am nimibered among those who lament the fact that what has passed from the 
public school scene in many areas is the memorization of poetry that inculcated 
in the minds of those who are young essential values of spiritual truth. Some of 
us remember when we were in school, how the requirement was that each month we 
memorize a given poem that was naturally very carefully chosen, that it might in- 
culcate in us at the impressionable age of life ideals, basic principles of mora- 
lity and virtue. To my dying day I shall remember how I was required to memorize, 
among other things, "Be loyal to the royal that is within you." 

we introduced into our curricula body-building courses 

because we earnestly believed that American manhood should 
be physically fit 


Just as important, if not even more so, I suggest to you, is that we introduce 
those things that enable us to become spiritually and morally fit. Polonius 
says to his son, doesn't he, in Shakespeare's "Hamlet" - - "To thine own self 
be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false 
to any man." And periodically a person must take himself or herself to task to 
ask the question: What kind of person am I becoming? 

In what direction am I heading? 
Tomorrow does come. And tomorrow is fashioned out of the stuff of today, which 
is the yesterday that eventually looms upon the horizon. 

Wouldn't it be a terrible thing if all that we had to say today was that 

there was one out of twelve who "went to his own place"? — separated forever from 

all the others - - - why should I allow myself to be crippled by thinking of that 

one? Why shouldn't I also think of the eleven? — the eleven who made it! — the 

eleven who proved the point that Jesus had in mind: "Be thou faithful unto death 

and I will give you the crown of life" . . . and every single one of the eleven 

received the crown of life! It's possible! Eleven out of twelve made it, and 

they made it because they remembered the promise of their Lord: 

"I will go with you" 

... "I will never leave you" 

...Lo, I will always be with you" 

..."My peace I will give to you" 

. there's this precious side of the coin that could be ignored, the glorious side 

of the coin: a person can choose to go to Heaven. 

"To every man there openeth a way, and ways, and a way. 

And the high soul climbs the high way, 
and the low soul gropes the low; 
But in between, in the misty flats 
The rest drift to and fro. 

But to every man there openeth a high way and a low. 
And each man decides the way his soul shall go." 

And you can end up at Heaven's gate. 

John Henry Newman said, "God has created me to do Him some definite service. 
He's committed some work to me which He has not committed to anybody else. I have 
my mission. I am a link in a chain, a bond of character between persons. He has 
not created me for nought. I shall do good, I shall do His work." 


Somewhere along the line Judas Iscariot forgot to talk to himself in that 
way. The eleven did. And as the eleven remembered it, they ended up at the Gate 
of Heaven, where a crown of light was awaiting them. 

Come now, what do you think is the most important single question that a man 

can put to himself? it's not a question, mark you, that you are supposed to apply 

for the moment to somebody else. Most of us are quite good at putting questions 

to other people. But the real test of character may lie in the questions we ask 

ourselves, and the answers we give. Of all such questions, I suggest to you now, 

the most important is this: What is the secret longing of my heart? 

What do I want most from life? 

That's why we've deliberately written into the Order for Confirmation what you're 

about to experience, when the question is put to you: 

"Do you love the Lord Jesus , 
and do you promise to serve 
Him with all your heart?" 

And the answer that you give is : 

"Yes, by the help of God." 

In my study, so close to the very place where I am standing now, I have a 
little white card on my desk. it refers to the day when I was ordained a Minister 
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It says something like this: 

"Keep this vestment spotless unto the Day of Judgment." 
I can't keep my vestment spotless, I live in a world where there's always the pos- 
sibility of my tripping myself up, and my getting it soiled. And that I have al- 
ready done on more than one occasion. Jesus Christ does not ask us to be perfect 
- - - He asks us to be faithful. And to that end He will help you day after day 

after day, as long as you set your soul in His direction 

— and that's the power that lies within you ; 
to keep your eye on Jesus Christ. 

.and when you keep your eye on Jesus Christ, you'll 

end up where Jesus Christ is. And that's a happy thought! 
This I most certainly believe. 

* * * * 

May the Peace of God that passeth 
all understanding keep your hearts 
anri minds through Christ Jesus. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

Trinity Sunday June 17, 1984 


BLAISE PASCAL" (Jeremiah 2; 13) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

For a number of weeks and months now some of you are fairly aware of the fact 
that the sermons for the most part being preached from this pulpit have been on the 
general theme: " Favorite Texts of Famous Persons. " This is the next to the last in 
that series of sermons. 

I'm in duty bound to remind you what I haye already told you, that there are 
those who when they think of their commitment to Jesus Christ, invariably think of 
a particular verse of Scripture, Biblical truth is meant to be applicable in our 
lives, to become a dominating force. Biblical truth is God's Word to us. Biblical 
truth is God's revelation of Himself to us. And God wants it to make an impact. 
God wants it to be a motivating force in our lives. God wants it to determine the 
course that we may take throughout the days of our years. There is nothing quite 
like Scriptural truth coming to life within the soul of a person „ 

Tradition has it — it is only a legend, of course, that in Heaven above there 
is a Keeper-iof-The-Book, and that Book, as you might know, of course, is the Bible. 
It is a large volume with wide margins . . . 

....and according to the legend, whenever a person is converted, 
whenever there's a complete change of heart, whenever there is 
final and complete realization that a person knows who he is and 
whose he is — that he's a child of God and belongs to God — when 
he knows that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Saviour. o. .when that 
experience sets in a person's life, according to tradition.... 

in the wide margins of the Book being kept by the Keeper in Heaven above — that 

person's name is recorded, and recorded opposite that verse of Scripture which has 
been instrumental in changing that perspn's life. 

Which leads me to ask very earnestly the question of you: as your life is being 
changed — as the reality of your relationship with God is being made firm — can 
you associate it with any particular thing? - with any particular place? - with any 
particular person? - with any particular reference in Scripture? 



Last Lord's Day during that impressive Confirmation Service we reminded ourselves 
that there is such a thing as a Confirmation Verse. Hopefully those who have Confirma- 
tion Verses will on occasion reflect on that Biblical truth. This morning now, I want 
to talk to you a little bit about a man named PASCAL - - said by many who are in a 
position to make such a judgment that he was the greatest thinker of the 17th Century, 
whose influence remains to this very day.... 

- - he's to be remembered as a scientist o,.. 

- - he's to be remembered as a writer».oo 

- - he's to be remembered as a logician, a philosopher of no 

small value, . . . 
I can't give you too much pertinent data regarding his life, I can tell you this: that 
he had a father who was tremendously interested in him, and paid attention to him as a 
person. His father, perhaps, was as strong an influence on his life as any single 

In those days, back in the 17th Century, when we didn't have the academic training 
as we have now, every now and then this person or that person would take it upon himself 
or herself to educate someone. In this case it was Pascal's father who assumed the res- 
ponsibility of educating his son. Incidentally — that word educate comes from the 
Latin — which means " to lead out " — to challenge, to stimulate what may be in front 
of you. And that Pascal's father did superbly. They did not always agree, but he was 
instrumental in encouraging his son to think, to develop the fulness of his potential. 

Of significance to us this morning is the text that dominated his life, . . oOnly, 

of course, after he came to grips with it. Let me read it for you now, from the Book 

of Jeremiah, that reluctant prophet, the second chapter, the 13th verse: 

" For my people have committed two evils; they 
have forsaken me the fountain of living waters , 
and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, 
that can hold no water , " 

Now, bear with me for just a little while, while we deal specifically with this 
text. Then we'll come back and talk about the way it's related to Pascal and changed 
his life, 

I don't know how important water is for you. I know very well that the old 
adage remains: You never miss the water until the well runs dry . Winifred and I had a 
visitor from India before I went to India on special assignment a number of years ago, 
who when she was a guest in our home, Winifred allowed the water to run freely from the 
tap. She became completely unsettled ~ she couldn't believe this apparent waste of 


something that was as precious to her as she remembered what it was in India. ... 
... I remember what it was like in India — on certain days , the 
last time Pastor David and I were there on special assignment, we 
had water only certain hours of the day. 

...once when Winifred and I made that trip aroiond the world and we 
were in Hong Kong, water every other day , for only a limited amount 
of time .... 

...when I first went to Europe, circumstances were such that for 
one day — a 24-hour period — I was without any water at all.... 
I remember the days of World War II, there was a tall, lanky physician in my home town 
who was drafted by the military, and off he went. And when he came back, he had been 
stationed on Ascension Island, and he told me of the scarcity of water — good water — 
he was rationed only as much water as his helmit could hold, to last three days — 
water for all purposes. 

In many parts of the Middle East, and what we refer to as the Holy Land in parti- 
cular, water is an exceedingly precious thing, and pure water above all else. Jeremiah 
is talking about God as the source of living water, a pure fountain, absolutely essen- 
tial for one ' s existence . And then as Jeremiah thinks of the people to whom God had 
shown special favor, how in their history they failed to take advantage of what God 
was giving them so freely, and what they needed so essentially, and in their stupidity 
— in their apostasy, in their unfaithfulness - - - Jeremiah says they were hewing out 
for themselves cisterns that could not hold water, that would eventually crack, and 
the water itself would be polluted . . . while all the time God was making available 
for them a source of pure and living water - - that's Jeremiah, 13th verse, 2nd chapter. 

Now... back to our friend Pascal. At 31 years of age he was converted. At 31 
years of age — well, let me give you some of the details, you may find them of interest. is late at night, one night in particular — if it's a date 
you want, here it is: November 23, the year 1654... the time: 10:30 

at night, and the encounter took place until 12:30 in the morning 

That's the way it was when a 31-year old man had a conversion experience. He was 
Pascal, the thinker , unsurpassed in brilliance and audacity.... 

— he was Pascal, the scientist , who knew how to harness the 
most profound erudition to the most practical ends „ . . . . 

— he was Pascal, the writer, who can express the most abstruse 
ideas in language a little child can iinderstand. . . . 


Those ±n a position to say so have maintained that no one in his generation influenced 
civilization as much as this man did — even to this very day — would you believe me, 
and I have reason to tell you this, that even modern technology with its computers can 
trace itself back to the work of Pasx^al, who gave us the calculator. His work with 
fluids still determines much that's being done in physics and chemistry today.... 
— in some theological seminaries what he wrote about deep 

reflective thought is happily made required reading 

On that night in November 23, 1654 he had an encounter with God. And the net 
result was, it occurred to him in no uncertain way that he was not drawing strength 
from the real source in life - - he was not drinking, if you please, from the living 
fountain. His relationship with God was less than desirable. He was not drawing 
the full benefit of what God could give to him. He was so impressed by that experi- 
ence that night that he wrote on parchment and stitched it into the clothing that he 
wore, this verse of Scripture, so that he might never forget this encoxinter. 

Several reflections now, if you don't mind. 

Every now and then you and I have our time when reality sets in, and we see our- 
selves as we are and have been, and could be J And we have some measure of peace with 
ourselves. That's precisely what Pascal had on that night from 10:30 until 12:30, No- 
vember 23, 1654 — an encounter with God. He never wanted to forget it. 

With all the strength that my soul can command I'd like to suggest to you that 
it is possible for us to have these moments of reality, exceedingly precious moments 
before God. And himian as we are, we need to keep in front of us some kind of a re- 
minder, lest we lose the value that's properly placed upon that encounter and upon 
that experience. Give Pascal credit — he didn ' t want to lose it, and he knew that 
he had to remind himself that it did happen. 

Why do some of us keep coming back to this place Sunday after Sunday? We need 
to be reminded of what takes place when we find ourselves within the gathered company. 
We need to hear the echo down the corridors of time of the eternal voice that speaks 
to the present moment. That's why we come here. 

As an impressionable teenager I remember, and remember so well, going into Upper 
Temple at Nawakwa, where the first speaker that I heard said to us very clearly and 
succinctly, "I come here to be made aware of God because it's so easy to forget Him 
when I'm somewhere else." 

I delight in reminding you of that old story of the old man who night after 
night after night walked the streets of Jericho until he came to a sycamore tree..,.. 


and he stood there \ander that sycamore tree in deep thought. There were people natu- 
rally observed him, it was just like clock-work - - night after night after night he 
came , the old man standing under the sycamore tree . . o . 

. . . .who was it made bold to put the question to him that 

inevitably had to be asked, so curious are we, 

"Old man, I see you coming back here night after 
night to this very spot as you stand under the 
sycamore tree. Who are you? Why do you come 

. . . the answer : 

"My name is Zacchaeus. It was here that I 
encountered my Lord, and I come back to 
remind myself of what it was like . . " much as to say, "to remind myself of who I am and whoae I am." 

Pascal wrote on a piece of parchment, November 23, 1654 — 10:30 at night until 

12:30 in the morning: 

" For my people have committed two evils; they 
have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, 
and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, 
that can hold no water . " 

From November 23, 1654 Pascal gave his life as completely as he could to Jesus Christ - 

wholeheartedly. He lived only eight more years. He died at the age of 39. 

Naturally you know I'm saying to myself, what a pity that for only a fifth of his 
life he took God seriously, and drew, to his own life the benefit of all that God wants 
to give — pure and living water is being made available to us. Let me be as old-fash- 
ioned as I can be in the preaching of this sermon — bring all the chords of the old- 
fashioned evangelist. Why do we tarry? Why do we delay? — when what we need most 
is always there. 

The old Westminster Catechism of the Presbyterian Church . . . you know what the 
catechism is, of course, a series of questions and short answers directed as precisely 
as they can to the question that's put honestly . . . „ the very first question in the 
old Westminster Catechism of the Presbyterian Church: 

" What is the chief end of man? " 

....which is simply to ask, why is man here? 
what's his purpose for existence? 
The answer is given superbly - - 

" The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever " make the most of it in a gratifying and a happy way. 


I too have it on parchment in my study, just steps away from where I am 

standing - - m^ favorite text: 

". . . So naturally we proclaim Christ . We teach every 
man we can ..." 

and the text goes on — 
" , . hopefully that we might bring every man up to his 
full maturity in Jesus Christ. This is what I am doing 
all the time with all the strength that God gives me ..." 
And I honestly believe that we're always less than what we're meant to be until we 
get squared off with God, until our lives are guided and motivated and strength- 
ened , and dominated by God. 

Pascal had that happen for eight years, only a fraction of his life, one-fifth 
of it. The tragedy is that for any number of people it's not even a fifth. Oh, I 
know there's always the possibility of a person turning to God and allowing God to 
take over - - always the possibility, even to the last hour.... as is true for the 
dying thief upon the cross, and the promise of Paradise was his. The tragedy is 
this: up to that point his was a life without God. And it doesn't have to be that 

Scriptural truth remains: 

"I will never leave you — I will never forsake you. 
Lo , I am with you always . " 

Take Him at His word. Draw strength of the living fountain. 
This I most certainly believe. 

May the peace of God that passeth 
all understanding keep your hearts 
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. 

(Transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday After Pentecost July 1, 1984 

(Deuteronomy 18:19) 

Grace, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Presumably it is not necessary, but let me introduce myself: I am an ordained 
minister of the Lutheran Church in America, and by that authority I stand at this 
sacred desk. That's one way by which I could introduce myself. 

I'm constrained to introduce myself this way on this particular Sunday, in the 
week that has a national holiday: I who stand before you am the son of an immigrant, 
the son of a Lebanese pedlar whose heart's desire at 18 years of age was to come to 
a brand new world, who never again returned to his native Lebanon; and once he set 
foot on Ellis Island, this would be his home until God called him into the Great Gate. 
All that I'm about to say to you I say with all the strength of my soul as the son of 
a man who loved America. 

Having told you that, there are two things that I must also share with you. 
Every now and then a person ought to sit down and thank God specifically for certain 
things. It's a salutary thing to do. I have my moments when of all the things for 
which I could thank God, I thank Him that my parents saw fit to cradle me in their 
arms and to head for the house of God, and not to be content until a man of God would 
take me into his arms, baptize me and name me for Jesus Christ. I know no greater 
blessing than the realization that I am a child of God, and that came to me through 
the Sacrament of Baptism. 

When I was baptized I became a part of the Family of God, I became a ■ part of 
people such as you. And whether you like it or not, I have now become a part of you, 
I belong to you, and you have a measure of responsibility for me because I am part of 
your family. That means more to me than I can ever put into words. And when I thank 
God for my blessings, I thank Him that I am His child and you are my brother, and you 
are my sister. 

When I enumerate my blessings I go on to thank God that when my father with that 
noble dream of his wanted to come to a new world, he was not content until he could 
come all the way to America. Some day you must be kind enough to give me time just to 
talk to you about him, one of the most honest men that I ever knew — one of the best 
persons I ever knew. The first $200 that he earned he sent back to cover his three- 


weeks' passage by steamer — the time that elapsed from Beirut to Ellis Island. I 
could tell you so much. But for the moment I thank God that he was not content until 
he could come to America. And, of all the places on the earth that I've ever visited, 
I can understand now more than ever Why he would want America to be his America. You 
need to understand this because all that I'm going to say to you now is against that 

The title for this sermon on this Sunday anticipating the Fourth of July is simply 
this: " God Has No Number One " ... and the text, the 19th verse of the 18th chapter 
of the book of Deuteronomy: 

" If you forget the Lord your God and go after 
other gods and serve them and worship them, I 
solemnly warn you this day that you will surely 
perish. " 

Any number of people who heard the preacher on that occasion would have been very 
happy, of course, if he hadn't gone that far. You may be numbered among those people 
who wish that the preacher would stop at a particular ppint instead of going on and on 

and on but this preacher did go on and on. You need to know what he said before he 

came to this point — he was telling these people who were in front of him how absolute- 
ly wonderful they were in God's eyes. He was recalling their history for them, and he 
kept saying, "You're special!" He might just as well have said, "You're Number One in 
God's eyes." That's how the preacher got carried away ... he said, "Think of what's 
happened to us, of all the people on the face of the earth - - 

— God called us by name 

— God made us a nation 

— God made promises to us 

— God entered into an agreement 

— God made a covenant 

— of all the people on the face of the earth God said, 

'I am going to give you the Ten Commandments' 

— of all the people on the face of the earth God said 

to us, 'I'll get you out of the land of bondage, 
I will free you, I will lead you, I will provide you 
a Moses.... a Joshua. .. .1 '11 provide you kings, and 
prophets, judges — you are mine. I have called you 
by name, you belong to me.'" 

There stood Moses, looking yonder to the promised land, a land in which he'd never 
p;ut his own foot, telling these people in grand and glowing terms what a wonderful rela- 
tionship they , of all the people on the face of the earth — say it repeatedly of all 

the people on the face of the earth, had with God. And they were excited. And as he re- 
called for them one incident after another in their history. 


I don't know of any people on the face of the earth who have a greater appreciation 
for history than do the Jewish people. They're always recalling it, they are always re- 
living it. Even on the night when they celebrate the Passover, the head of the house 
says, hoping that some youngster in the family may be able to answer to "Why is this 
night different from any other night?" The implication remains: Why are we as a people 
different from any other peepj-e? And Moses held them spellbound, I have reason to be- 
lieve. And all that they could say was, "You're absolutely right — God did do this for 
us! God did do this for us! God did keep; his promise, God did bring us on our way in, 
murmur and rebel as we did, but here we are! And there it is, as God ^ promised!" 

Any number of people, I dare say, would have been very happy if the preacher would 
have stopped at that point. The flags were unfurled, the trumpets were being sounded, 
they were all excited. They were God's chosen, they had a relationship with God as no 
other people had. 

That's the point at which Moses brought them, but he didn t stop, and I'd like to 
think with thunder in his voice and fire in his eyes he said, "I want to tell you some- 
thing: you can't go home yet, and we'te not going to sing the Doxology at this point, 
and I'm not going to pTonounce the benediction the sermon isn't ended. You've got 

to hear me - - 

— if you forget the Lord your God, and 

— 1£ you go after other gods, and 

— if you serve them and 

— if you worship them .... 

Let's pause for a moment. You see, this is always a possibility. No one ever has it 
made. No one can ever say "This is it!" ~ and then you throw yourself in neutral. 
For nations, just as it is true for individuals, there is always the^ ppssibility of 
falling from grace. 

I want to remember and remember so well - - when I was taking a course in biography, 
how the professor reminded me of a certain distinguished individual who refused to have 
his biography written while he was living, because, he said, "I have seen too many peo- 
ple fall flat on their face, even in the latter years of their life ." There is always 
this possibility. And I say this to you only because we must be eternally vigilant, we 
must always maintain our guard. None of you ever has it made so that he can shift into 
neutral — the kind of thing that Moses was telling the Children of Israel ~ "Sure, you 
think you're Number One — Sure, you're secure in what God promises you! But you can't 
ignore the element of responsibility - - " 

— "If you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and 


serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day 
that you shall surely perish." 

I say it quickly, ever so quickly: if you're ever inclined to think that God has 
His favorites, if you're ever inclined to think that God does choose certain people, 
remember this and remember it well, His basic rules of justice remain for all people 
alike, and even more so for those who may allow themselves to believe that they're in 
a favored position. "Those to whom much has been given, of them much will be re- 

I find no quarrel that they allowed themselves to believe that they were God's 
chosen people — we still use the figure of speech. I find no quarrel with that. 1 

was one of six kids I'm not at all troubled that on certain occasions my dad or my 

mother would choose one of us, one of us for a special assignment. I find no trouble 
with that, making a choice and allowing a person to believe that at that particular 
time he was chosen. I've seen craftsmen work, and occasionally I have seen them reach 
for a particular tool, passing over other tools on the bench, because in order to ac- 
complish what needed to be done that needed that particular tool and they choose 

it for that purpose. I find no quarrel with the figure of speech "God'fe chosen." 

In fact, I know a measure of satisfaction in realizing that the church is a New 
Israel — really now! The real Israel is not a political state! The New Israel is 
the Church of Jesus Christ! We, of all the people on the face of the earth are the 
ones chosen by God that He may work through us what He has in mind for all the people 
on the face of the earth. 

There's some measure of satisfaction in being told that you're chosen. I am eter- 
nally grateful that I am a grandfather. It adds a whole new dimension to my life, 
and that the relationship that exists between a grandfather and grandchildren that only 
grandfathers and grandchildren can talk about. I remember how thrilled I was when the 
first of our grandsons came to me, he must have been four or five years of age — I 
was thinking about him when I was sitting on the porch and mused the other evening. 
Every now and then you need to sit down and reach back into the past for something good 
that you can hold on to. And I remember that particular night when he sat there and he 
looked up to me and he said, "Pop-Pop — you're my Number One!" 

You have no idea what that did to me - - for down deep in our hearts we all want to 
be Number One to somebody. - - "Pop-Pop, you're my Number One" — I felt very good until 
I heard him say that to somebody else! And then I took myself to task, and I said why 


should I fault him for being generous? He's not being deceitful, he's not being devious, 
- - he's just being generous. He feels this way toward people, and may he always allow 
p'eople to feel that they're special to him! 

We who think we're Number One in God's eyes — America — we have our moments, 
we really do, when we think we're Number One in God's eyes — even the Children of 
Israel, of all the nations on the face of thei earth, claim to be Number One in God's 
eyes. We have so much to prove it, don't we? Look at the map^! — the wide geographi- 
cal exp.anse, the envy of any number of nations all put together, when they see how big 
we are 

— we feel as though we 'ire very special when we realize what we have — 

from shore to shore and border to border.... 

— our resources — we think we'te special, honest we do, when we recog- 

nize what's happened with our productivity, our economic resources, 
our technology. . . . 
It is absolutely amazing what we can do, and every now and then some of us say thanks 
to God - - thanks to God. 

But the words of the preacher remain. We may be special. We may allow ourselves 
to think that we have favor in God's eyes. But down through the corridors of time 
the preacher hasn't changed his tune: 

" If you forget the Lord your God and go after other 
gods, and if you serve them and worship them, I 
solemnly warn you this day that you will surely perish. " 

As a student of history I became acquainted with the name of Alex DeTopville. He's 
the one you see, who has often been quoted as he visited our land, saying, "America is 
great because America is good." Don't settle just for that sentence. Get it in its 
prop;er context — this is what he said fully and completely: "I sought for the great- 
ness and the genius of America, not her commodious harbors and her aKpfLe rivers, and 
it was not there. I sought for the greatness and the genius of America in her fertile 
fields and boundless forests, and it was not there; I sought for the greatness and the 
genius of America in her rich mines and her vast world of commerce, and it was not there; 
I sought for the goodness and genius of America in her public school system and her in- 
stitutions of learning, and it was not there; I sought for the greatness and the 
genius of America in her democratic Congress and her matchless Co nstitution, and it 
was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pul jLt 
flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and- pwer. America 


is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease 
to be great." Any nation that allows itself to believe that it has the smile of God'fe 
favor upon it is constrained to remind itself that God holds us responsible for what we 
do, for what He allows us to have. 

Rudyard Kipling, in his ( ) caught it magnificently when, at the time of 
the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria — when all the masses and forces of Britain's 
strength and the plitical and economic and cultural forces of the world were amassed, 
and when the last celebration had been held, it was Rudyard Kipling who gave to his 
people these words: 

"God of our fathers, known of old. 

Lord of our far-flung battle-line. 

Beneath whose awful hand we hold 

Dominion over palm and' jlne; 

Lord God of hosts, be with us yet. 

Lest we forget - - lest we forget! 

(transcribed as recorded) 


Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fifth Sunday After Pentecost July 15, 1984 

(Matthew 10: 24-25) 

Grace, Mercy and Peace from 
God our Father and from his 
Son, Jesus Christ, our Blessed 
Lord. Amen. 

Occasionally we at Saint Luke receive visitors who come and want to know about 
our ministry and about our program; and I catch, every now and then, an envious note. 
They're impressed by our schedule, they say good and kind words about our facilities. 
And then I find myself in the position of having to say to them (and don't press me 
too far on this one, please) — that whatever we do in Saint Luke we could do better 
if we were only smaller. 

Now you have to understand that a bit. Unless you belonged to a much smaller 
congregation you can't possibly appreciate the kind of thing that does happen when num- 
bers are fewer. There's a freedom, there's a personal relationship that you can't pos- 
sibly have in a much larger group. I am reasonably certain that X-Jinifred after all 
these years has made her adjustment to the size of Saint Luke, but occasionally I 
wouldn't fault her one bit if she has a measure of nostalgia for that little white 
frame church in the hills of north central Pennsylvania in Pleasant Valley, where per- 
chance on any given Lord's Day only a fraction of the number of people who are here 
this morning will be present for divine worship there. 

Now why do I speak so warmly about this kind of thing now? For the simple reason 
that when they come together they pay attention to each other personally. And if you 
have been away for the week they'll say, "You're back! — How did it go? Did you have 
a good trip? - - did you meet anybody that you knew before?" That's the kind of thing 
that happens! And I remember that when as a youngster in my home church, when our 
preacher's son went off to spend a weekend with a buddy in the country . . . 
— recollecting, of course, how the farmers used to stand outside 
even after the first hymn had begun, to continue their conversation; 
they weren't about to go in until perhaps near the time for the ser- 

...and Harold came back and said to his dad, 

(remember, now, how those people had congregated and 
talked so easily outside before they went in to sing 
the first hymn) 


. . . "Well, Pop, I can't tell you much about the sermon, but 
I can tell you the price of potatoes." 
...this kind of thing that happens even before people sing the first hymn. 

Now, if you don't mind, I have been away. I wasn't here last Sunday. Maybe you 
noticed! Maybe you'd like to know where I was, and maybe you'd like to know what I 
was up to? Well, I was outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Winifred and I spent a week 
at St, Benedict's Retreat Center. It's staffed by the Sisters of St. Benedict. It is 
Roman Catholic by tradition; its doors are open to any people who might come who'd 
care to use the facilities. For five weeks now we Lutherans will be using St. Benedict's 
Retreat Center. Near the end of June 35 people newly assigned for mission fields over- 
seas, along with their 20 children, are spending time together. They're being indoctri- 
nated, they're being prepared for what it is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in this day 
and age overseas. 

My assignment this past week was to serve as their spiritual leader, to conduct 
daily worship for them, to make myself available to talk with any people who may want 
to talk with someone whom God has been using for more than four decades with a pastor's 
heart. There was also time given to meet in informal groups when we talked about the 
prayer experience. 

(I should say this to you quite parenthetically — the chapel 
is a very interesting place. It doesn't have very much orna- 
mentation, you're impressed immediately by what you see: four 
walls, a vaulted ceiling, no altar as such, a Communion table, 
and multiple chairs, no pews.) 

Now I had to conduct worship for them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 
mornings, and what do you suppose happened? Each morning I re-arranged the chairs — 
sometimes we were facing one another. .. .sometimes we were a semi-circle, like an amphi- 
theatre, a little family gathered together. 

How do you suppose I arranged them the last morning I was with them? Not in a way 
you might suspect — fully aware of the fact that this would be my last time with them, 
I recognized that I would be leave-taking. The time had come for me no longer to stay !. 
there, just as the time would come for them when they no longer would be able to stay 
there. So I arranged all the chairs with their back toward the altar wall, and they 
were facing the open doors! The front of the chapel is a series of glass window panes, 
with three large doors. And I opened every single one of those doors, and all the peo- 
ple assembled together would not face an altar with a cross and candles. .. .they faced 
an open door! 

" A HARD LESSON " (3) 

The thesis is simple: Eventually the time comes when every single one of us has 
to get up from the place where he happens to be and move on to some other place. Life, 
properly understood, is a pilgrimage, a journey, we move on from one place to another. 
Life, properly understood, is lived out in chapters. We deal with one segment of some 
things in our lives, and then that chapter is over and we have to move on to the next 

Not long after I became pur Pastor — don't get me wrong on this — I said I was 
going to have a new sign put on my desk. . . (I never did) . . . .but the new sign was going 
to read like this: NEXT PROBLEM, PLEASE - - because that's life, you see, you go from 
one problem to another, you go from one chapter to another, and some people go from one 
place to another. So in a certain sense the symbol for life itself could be an open 
door. You can't always stay where you are, you've got to move on to the next place, 
deal with the next person, concentrate on the next problem. 

These 35 people who were there, called by the Church to serve overseas, I sat with 
them in one conference after another, I could catch something of their fears, their 
anxieties. The thing that troubled me was that while there was a measure of expectancy, 
I did not feel an over-riding sense of joy. Maybe they were a bit too anxious, maybe a 
bit too troubled as to what it was that would lie ahead, because for every single one 
of them something new and different would lie ahead for them. 

There's a text for all that I'm saying to you this morning. It's inspired by to- 
day's Gospel lesson. In fact, the text is the introductory verse to that Gospel lesson 
which was not included: the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, verses 24 

and 25: " The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant 

above his lord. 

It is enou^ for the disciple that he be as his master , 

and the servant as his lord . . . . 
Now, stick with me for a minute. That 10th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew 
deserves careful reading and you won't much like it at first blush. Let's be very 
honest with ourselves, there's more than one page in the Bible that we wish to God had 
never been written! Some things inspire us, some things make us very happy. But we're 
saddened when we have to be confronted by some things that we do read in the Bible, 
even thou^ they come from the lips of Jesus Christ. As an example, in that 10th chap- 
ter of the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus had recruited his disciples ~ all twelve 
of them. It's the 10th chapter of Matthew that names them for us. They're no sooner 
named, the roster is no sooner announced, than Jesus Christ as their lord and master 
gives them their marching orders — there it is in that 10th chapter! He tells them 


to get on the road they can't stay where they are, they've got to move on! Figur- 
atively speaking, the door is open ... as though Jesus Christ re-arranged the chairs 
in His chapel, and had everybody facing an open door. 

He tells them hard for us to take in this day and age when we make so much of 

fringe benefits, pension ri^ts, entitlement programs He said, "Don't you dare worry 

overmuch about your pay check" ...(that's my free translation) ... He said, "You don't 
take any coins in your purse, you don't have to worry about them. You concentrate on 
doing a day's work! — and you trust me to see that you will be taken care of." 

I was deeply troubled at that conference. I'm going to be very honest with you. 
There was one spouse going out, and she would like very much to have been assured that 
she would get the same amount of salary that her husband was going to get who was being 
called as the missionary. That troubles me. When I thought how even the way of the 
world could put us Christians to shame when a person volunteers for the Peace Corps, that 
person goes with far less concern for monetary re-imbursement than what some representa- 
tives of Jesus Christ will agree to before they pack their bags and go overseas I'm 

sorry to have to tell you this! 

So you see, I'm telling you about what Jesus was telling these people, laying it on 
the line. He was saying it to people whom He had called - - He had chosen them! And by 
the way, did you ever stop to ask yourself the question: What is the first thing, and 
perhaps the only thing that Jesus Christ requires of any disciple? And you ought to know 
what the word disciple means - - it comes from the Latin and from the Greek, which means 
to be a learner , to be a follower -- that's the first and only thing that Jesus Christ 
asks of any of us. In any day and in any age — not how much you know, not how much you 
have, not where your status may be in society. The first and primary thing that He asks 
of any of us is that we learn of Him, that we follow Him, that we look upon Him as Master 
and Teacher. So He says now ~ "Hit the road! Don't worry about your salary check." 

If it's any comfort to you, let me tell you something else in that 10th chapter of 
Matthew — read it for yourself: "If you ever go to a place and they're not kindly dis- 
posed toward you, you don't have to stay . . " That's in the Bible! " . . . If they 
don't receive you, you shake the dust off of your feet and move away from that town — 
don't waste your efforts unproductively. The work is so urgent, there are people who so 
much need to hear what only you can bring to them — get to those people as fast as you 
can! ..." How about that for a piece of advice and counsel from no one less than 
Jesus Christ! 

You're not forgetting, are you, that He also said, "I'm sending you out, and you 

" A HARD LESSON " (5) 

can expect the same kind of treatment that people would give to me." Would you let 
me tell you this — that one of the things I've tried to practice in my relationship 
with staff people is that I would never ask them to do something that I would not be 
willing to do myself. I believe that's a good basic rule. By the same token, Jesus, 
our Blessed Lord, is saying to these people whom He had recruited — "You're going to 
go out, and I want you to be to those people as 1 would be to them . . . and that 
means that you can expect the same kind of treatment that people would give to me." 
And then He briefed them — He said, "In some cases even members of your own family 
will turn against you. In some cases you will be even jailed; in some cases you won't 
even get the time-of-day from people you've grown to love and to whom you want to mini- 
ster. That's the kind of treatment I've gotten, that's the kind of treatment you're 
going to get. If you want a title for this brief sermon, it could well be " A Hard Les- 
son " — or — " The Lesson That Needs To Be Mastered. " 

I don't know why it is, but we suffer in our day and age from what I call a 
'bland brand' of Christianity, where we allow people to think that you can go through 
life always with a perpetual smile on your face, and everything will be lovey-dovey — 
and it just isn't so! I've told some of you this for a number of weeks now, that the 
more critical problems in my ministry that I've ever had to face I'm facing right now. 
And as I relate to some of you as your pastor, I can relate to some of you because I can 
identify with some of the burdens that you have been bearing year after year! — and 
they haven't gone away. I have little patience with those preachers who in our day al- 
low people to believe that Christianity is just one grand slap or pat on the back, and 
"Go your way, brother ~ everything is going to be alright no later than ten o'clock 
tomorrow morning." It just doesn't happen that way. You read that 10th chapter of the 
Gospel according to Matthew, laying it on the line. 

No wonder the Apostle Paul, who took Jesus Christ as seriously as he did, could 

say, "We have got to remember, we will suffer with him 

. . .we will suffer with him we will suffer with him. . . .we must endure." 

Let me go back and ask you this question again: What do you think it is to be 

a Christian? 

— To be a Christian is to be a learner . . . . 

— To be a Christian is to be a follower 

— To be a Christian is to be in your place to other people as Jesus Christ. 
Said Jesus Christ, "I have asked you to come and to be with me, that you might learn of 
me." Don't ever forget that - - " that you might be to other people as I^ want to 

" A HARD LESSON " (6) 

to be to them." 

Now very quickly You say to yourself, there's a tremendous gap between Jesus 
Christ and me - - my performance can never come up to His level! It's Impossible! 
It's unreal! And to be lamented Is the fact that some people then very easily ad- 
just to that, and never even try! But the basic admonition remains: "Be ye perfect 
even as your heavenly Father is perfect." 

Our Methodist friends make much of the doctrine of perfection. We don't talk 
enough about it , even though we come down heavily on sanctif ication. But if I re- 
member correctly, when a candidate for the ministry in the Methodist Church in years 
gone by appeared before the bishop to be interrogated, and one of the questions that 
may be put to him is this one, listen to it carefully: 
" Are you striving after perfection ?" 

....a classic question. 
And there was that candidate who began to wriggle a bit, and squirm, realizing that 
it's impossible to strive after perfection. So the bishop wisely accommodated him- 
self to the level of the man in front of him by saying, "If you think that's an un- 
fair question, if you think that's unreasonable to ask you, "Are you striving after 

perfection?" them let me ask you this question," said the bishop "If you're 

not striving after perfection, what are you striving after?" 

So Jesus Christ says, "Go out into the world, remember who you are and whose 
you are — you're my followers; and you be to other people as I am to you." It's 
an awesome assignment. But what a compliment He paid them — as much as to say, "You 
can do it! You can love — really you can! I made you with that capability. You 
can believe in the goodness of people, honestly you can! And you can look for the 
goodness of people, even as I am looking for the goodness in you! Honestly you can." 

Well, that's the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. It's quite 
a chapter. It lays it on the line. It comes not only by way of challenge but it also 
comes by way of encouragement. And if I've painted a dark picture of it, you must for- 
give me, because this too remains as the bottom line: 

— if we are faithful and if we suffer, if we endure — 

then ultimately we will enjoy the blessing that God 
has only for those who follow after Him. 
Before each of us, then, there is an open door. You can't forever stay where you are, 
you've got to move on to the next problem. That can be a very exciting thing about life, 
and maybe some of us don't deserve to live another day if we can't recognize the possi- 


bllity of that open door. Because the One who opens that door is also the One who 
says, "I will never leave you, I will never forsake you." And He's the one who,), 
as He opens the door, is always out there ahead of us, waiting for us. 
This I most certainly believe. 

(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

St. Mary Magdalene July 22, 1984 


Grace, Mercy and peace from God 
our Father and from His Son 
Jesus Christ, our Blessed Lord. 

All that you are about to hear this morning is inspired by the Gospel lesson 
for the day and by the very fact that in the calendar of the Church, Sunday, July 22, 
is set aside as the commemoration of a woman. 

Now before anything else is said, because we are family, let me speak to you 
very informally and let me relax for a moment and tell you that when I had this special 
assignment two weeks ago at St. Benedict Roman Catholic Retreat Center, where a group 
of Lutheran missionaries had assembled for a number of weeks prior to going overseas 
for their assignment, I was to be their worship leader for the week. 

There were all kinds of people present in that group of 35 adults, and as any- 
one knows when he goes to be a speaker for the first time to a group with whom he's 
had no prior relationship, you're never quite certain what kind of response or reaction 
you're going to get. When I finished speaking the first time a young chap came up to 
me. . .1 say young chap because presumably I'm old enough to be his grandfather. He 
had finished his training, he had finished his theological training, he was being as- 
signed overseas. Now understand, I conducted my first service, I made my presentation, 
the benediction had been pronounced, I was about to walk away, and he came up to me and 
I'm happy to tell you, and I don't say this vainly — we're all like this; he thanked me 
for being there, and he said, "I listened to what you had to say . . . " Before I knew 
it, he caught me completely off-guard by saying, "If you don't mind, I wish you'd watch 
your language!" 

Now ordinarily people don't talk to me like that; and I tried to regain my compo- 
sure as quickly as possible, and much to my surprise, what he had in mind was my sexist 
language, because he was listening with a very critical ear, representing the generation 
that he does. And unfortunately for me, evidently when I was speaking I didn't say as 
often as I should have 'he-or-she' . . . he-or-she. . . .and my terms of course offended 
him a bit because he felt I was neglecting women. 

Well now, I hope you know how highly I regard women. I've fallen In love with 
one and I've kept myself in love with one all of these years, and I know how important 
women are in the work of the church, and in society. And it's not my intention in any 


way to slight women in whatever vocabulary that I may use. You've got to remember, I'm 
of the old school — for years and years and years we used one term that embraced every- 
body But I thanked him, and with a bit of doing each morning thereafter 1 tried to re- 
member what he had told me, and with some effort I had to say every time I spoke, "Now 
whether he or she would do this," - - - and then with some effort also, instead of say- 
ing mankind, I would say humankind . But I don't know in God's name that I'll ever get 
around to saying, " Person the battle-stations!" 

Don't make more of this than you should. I have a high regard for equality and 
recognition, you know that. For some of us who have been using some style of language 
for over a period of years, it isn't easily done overnight. Nor do we want to border 
sometimes on the ridiculous. I think I satisfied him, honestly I do, because the last 
two mornings that I spoke, how do you suppose I began? I began by saying, "I want to 
talk to you this morning about two women, one good, one bad." I don't know how I satis- 
fied him on that score. And the last morning we were together I said, "I want to speak 
to you about three women today — happily enough, every single one of them good women." 

This morning when I come to the sacred desk I want to talk to you about a woman, 
and if you're to go back and examine the sermons that I've preached from this sacred 
desk, on more than one occasion I've talked about women, because the Bible is filled 

with women. The Bible talks about all kinds of women. This woman this morning well, 

let me back up a bit. Be honest with me, as honest as you possibly can be. In the 
calendar of the church, July 22 is set aside, remembering Mary Magdalene. 

Knowing human nature as I do — and you're not much different — one of the very 
first things that comes to your mind 

— is the fact that she had been a prostitute... 

— is the fact that she had been a fallen woman — 

— is the fact that she gave her body for profit — . 

How much she enjoyed it, I don't know; how much she hated it, I don't know; how many 
times she despised men, who exploited her, I don't know. But I know there are such 
things as harlots, I know that Mary Magdalene was one. She is in the Bible! I also 
know that in the calendar of the church we don't forget her; 

c?.r_s-f?r t-:: :'rs c'-v.::." -^e :'?r" ; -crr;^: ... ,.and I know that in the calendar of the 
church we set aside one day in the course of the year to specifically remember her. 



You can read for yourself in the Bible references that are made to Mary of Magdala, 
Incidentally, you're not forgetting, are you, that the Bible talks about four different 

Marys - - - that would make an interesting series of sermons sometime — Four Marys 

and how you might look forward to that sermon on Mary-the-prostitute Mary-the-harlot . . 

. . . Mary of Magdala. Jesus was once at a dinner party; she graced the party! She embar- 
rassed the host, she fawned over Jesus. She came with her two hands, hands that had em- 
braced men who could have been like beasts, following the instincts of beasts. But she 

took those two hands I think she massaged his back; she washed his feet, moistened 

by the tears that came from her eyes. She used the tresses of her long hair like a towel 

and all the while Simon- the-host was embarrassed. He couldn't quite figure it out: 

what kind of a man is this? Simon could reason with himself: Have I been taken? Is 
there something that I should have known about him? Where did he meet her? How well 
does he know her? Wheat's going on here? 

She had been a fallen woman ~ I can't strike it boldly enough for her . . . she'd 
been a woman of the streets; she had a past; she'd been practicing it for some time. But 
at some point in her life the eyes of Jesus Christ fell upon her. Something happened 
that had never happened before. By and large, every single man who had looked upon her 

with lust looked upon her for what he could get out of her, or how he could use her 

like a person reaching for a toy and having his fun, and then dropping it, walking away. 
I have a definition for prostitution that I've never read in a book: "a touch-and-go af- 
fair" where you get, and then you leave and you feel no sense of obligation to 

that person whatsoever. 

She served her purpose. A man got what he wanted. Not so Jesus Christ. He looked 
upon her with the eye, the like of which no man before had looked upon her ~ surely not 
for what he could get, surely not for what he wanted to take. But for what he wanted to 
give, for what he could offer.... 

— surely he looked upon her not as a woman with a 
past, but as a woman with a future... 

— surely he looked upon her not as somebody who 

could be used, but as someone who could become useful.... 
No one had ever looked upon her like that. Please don't forget what I've just told you. 

When He was here on earth He called people to be His disciples. To the best of my 
knowledge He never called Mary Magdalene and said, "I want you to be my follower." But 

He did call such people as Andrew. .. .Bartholomew. .. .Simon. .. .Jude. . .James. .. .John 

Judas Iscariot - - and in every single one of them He saw a potential. He said, "You 


come after me, I'm going to make an Investment in you. And when my earthly pilgrimage 
is completed, I'm going to turn it over to you!" There was a final week in the life 

of Jesus that led to the day when His body was placed in an empty grave 

- - where do you find Andrew now? 

— Simon Peter? . . . Matthew? . . . 
Where do you find any one of that trio who seemed to be so close to Jesus, who on many 
an occasion, when He passed by all the other nine. He'd say to "James, John, Peter — 
stay a minute. I want to spend some very special time with you ..." Where were 
they now? Only one, John, is found at the foot of the cross, the so-called 'beloved' 
disciple. Who else? — a couple of women! — one of whom is Mary. 

They place His body in the grave. Who is it who thinks about going to embalm 
His body, or f iguaretively speaking, to anoint it, to take precious oils? I once very 
briefly submitted to a newspaper a fictional article that dealt with the oils and the 
perfumes that Mary had prepared to take to anoint the body of Jesuc . Wuere did she 
get them? one of her lovers? What happened to him? — a fictional account, you see, 
with which I dealt. That's beside the point. But in the Resurrection Garden, when no 
one is around, who is it that makes brave and bold to go even by herself to be at the 
grave? Mary! — Mary Magdalene. Say it again, the harlot, the prostitute, the fallen 
woman. Once she was like that. The Church commemorates Mary of Magdala — a sinner, 
child of the Devil - saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, who paid attention to her. 

How are people saved? Not by removing ourselves at some detached distance, not 
by ignoring the fact that they exist. They are saved when good people pay attention to 
bad people and hope and pray that the good that's in the bad will one day dominate. 
That's why I've come to this sacred desk this morning — happy as all get-out to talk 
to you about a woman — a good woman .... once a bad woman, but a good woman, who when 
nobody else was around, there she was. Which leads me to say to you as I walk away from 
this sacred desk -- and don't you dare ever forget it — every saint has his past... every 
sinner has his future. This I most certainly believe. 

A * A * 

MAY THE peace of God that passeth all 
understanding keep your heart and minds 
through Qirist Jesus. Amen. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost July 29, 1984 

(Hosea 11:9) 

We are so busy, God, there are so 
many things that claim our times. 
But for a little while, now, in this 
place may we give some measure of un- 
divided concern for the interpretation 
of your Word. Through Jesus Christ, 
Thy Son our Lord, who when He came, 
came preaching. Amen. 

The title for the sermon is important. May I suggest that you listen carefully 
as it's announced, and perchance again and ever so often as the sermon progresses you 
will allow it to loom on the horizon of your mind. This, now, is the title for today's 
sermon: " The God Who Is Never Less Than God. " There's a text, of course. And the 
text, brief as it may be, is inspired by an entire book in the Bible — it's the 9th 
verse of the 11th chapter of the prophecy of Hosea: 

" For I am God, and not man, the 
Holy One in your midst ..." 

A number of years ago when I had my own special time before the altar, recalling 
the night when holy hands were placed upon my head more than four decades ago, and I 
was set apart (to use a precious figure of speech) as a minister of the Word and Sacra- 
ment - - I remember with particular gratitude that congregation in north central Penn- 
sylvania who were the first to call me "Pastor." I place a high value upon that word. 

A pastor is a particular person. On occasion the Church has asked me to speak 
to people in their final preparation for the Gospel ministry, and invariably I have 
taken as my subject: "What It Means To Be A Pastor." The main outline of what I say 
to them I'll tell you now. You may think it to be a play on words, and if so, justifi- 
ably, I dare say. A pastor, I do believe, is God's particular person, for a particular 
purpose, to a particular people, in a particular place, at a particular time. 

Bear with me when I suggest to you that there is no other person quite like a 
pastor in our society, regardless of the agency, the institution, the organization or 
the fellowship that you may have in mind. For properly understood, a pastor is one 
called by God to be a shepherd and a bishop of a particular group of people. It is 
a unique relationship. 


You can readily understand, then, why when I was especially remembering my ordi- 
nation, that I would look back and think of that congregation, the first ever to call 
me "Pastor." You will excuse me if after all these years I can still speak of them 
with nothing less than deep affection and gratitude, even as I am grateful for the 
trust and respect that you've given me these past twenty-eight years. But you see — 
whatever I brought to you in 1956, they helped get me ready for you from 1940 until 
1956, and even before 1940. You see, they were the ones — I can hardly believe it — 
who were willing to take me fresh from divinity school, still in my early 20's, and 
even before I was ordained, to make me their acting pastor. Now as I stand before 
you, willing to be perfectly transparent as I have been on occasion, what in heaven's 

name did I know about life? little more than twenty years of age. How could I, 

at that tender age, be so bold as to go to that sacred desk in Messiah's Church, South 
Williamsport , Pennsylvania, where a man much beloved by every one of them, old enough 
to be my grandfather, had preached to them for almost half a century; who when at age 
75 would stand in that pulpit — he could interpret God's Word, he could interpret 
God's precious truth, not only on the basis of what he had studied from the sacred 
page, but with the fullness of his many years. You can readily understand when I say 
this to you — he could not only say: "This I believe" but he could say: "This I know." 
But there I stood, and there I preached, doing the best I could on the basis of what I 
had read, doing the best I could on the basis of what God could reveal to me within 
the limitation of my years, on the basis of what I had observed in people. 

So there I stood, and went to that sacred desk Sunday after Sunday, week after 
week, month after month and one year that led into another until perhaps a decade had 
passed — and listen now — with nary a cloud upon the horizon a decade of bless- 
ing, with never a time when my soul was tried to the very depth. .. .don' t misunderstand 
me, with never a time when I had to fight in order to go on believing . . . never a 
time when I got mad at God. More than a dozen years would pass until Winifred and I 
had first-hand encounter within our own family circle of sickness that led to death. 
And all the while, in that dozen of years, you see, I was ministering to people who 
had lost loved ones. But it had never happened to us. And then when death came — 
what until then did I know about death! — a fracture within a family circle, an empty 
chair, a vacant place? When I struggled along with it as best I could with Winifred's 
mother, I said, "How long is it going to take you to make the adjustment?" — she said 
to me, "I don't know that I'll ever make it because I still wait for him to come up the 


lane." What, until then, did I know of death? And yet again and ever so often there 
were before me in that congregation those grieving who were yearning for comfort and 
consolation which my word as God's spokesperson were meant to convey. 

Many a time — and here again I'm perfectly willing to be transparent among you — 
many a time I asked God to forgive me, as I most certainly believe He did and has, be- 
cause He is an understanding God. As I remembered when I had not yet been ordained 
and I was twenty-four years of age, and they had trusted me with a pastoral ministry, 
and I was called to conduct a funeral service for a woman, perhaps 86 - 84 years of 
age, I've forgotten which... they had no children, there was only her husband now, no 
living relative. I conducted the service. I remember how I stood at the grave, and 
as we walked away, this 86-year-old man, old enough to be my grandfather, said to me, 
"I feel as though I've been cut in two. Pastor, I feel as though half of me has been 
taken away." I'm reasonably sorry to tell you this, that whatever I said to him I 
said falteringly and with a hallow ring. I was yet to be married. What did I know 
on the basis of my experience what he was saying to me? - - - "I feel as though I have 
been cut in two, as though half of me is gone 1 feel like a half-person." 

I think I can tell you this, that if I were ministering to that person today, with 
44 years of married life that I've shared with Winifred, and in light of the deep con- 
versation that we occasionally have, soberly, realistically thinking about the facts, 
that that day will come when one of us will remain. I can understand what it means 
when he said, "I feel as though half of me has been taken away." 

With a seriousness that is far more than jest, frequently I have lamented the 
fact that one does not begin his or her first work with twenty years experience. Ex- 
perience is what life is all about . Experience is what we're born without! Experience 
is the time that must be endured, that must be experienced, that must be lived through 
in order to learn, in order to identify with people in a particular time of need, condi- 
tion or circumstance. 

When I, a pastor and a son-in-law, endeavored to comfort Winifred's mother when 
Winifred's father died, nothing that I could say could compare when Winifred's Aunt 
Emma came to Winifred's mother and said, having been made a widow herself three years 
earlier, as she called Winifred's mother by name and said, "Now you understand what I've 
been going through." 

You have been very kind to endure this lengthy introduction. You're not forgetting 
the title of the sermon, are you? — "The God Who Is Never Less Than God." Now all this 
is simply to suggest that when I speak to you these days, particularly these past months. 


I do bring, I honestly believe, to every sermon the impact of something other than 
just three or four years of academic pursuit freshly coming off the hill of the 
school designed to make people ready to preach, with my diploma still yet to be 
framed. There is no substitute for that preaching, I dare say, that is born from 
experience. Because I do believe this, I approach this desk in recent years with 

more earnest preparation than I have ever given before not that I have tried to 

be slack at an earlier time. And surely when I come to this sacred desk as you allow 
me to come, I come with a sense of humility and pure gratitude that God should spare 
me these days for this purpose. 

Now with this rather lengthy introduction let me read for you that passage of 
Scripture which would never have come to us — you're not forgetting, are you, I 
have been talking about experience , I have been talking about the testimony that's 
to be valid only as experience supports it. I'm going to read for you a passage of 
Scripture that would never have come to us, you would never have found it in the 
Bible, if that man Rosea had not had his experience. . . . and on the basis of his 
experience with his family, on the basis with his understanding of God and the way 
God looks upon us as a family, on the basis of his own first-hand encounter with life 
. . . you beware of any preacher who stands at a sacred desk and gives you religion 
that's a second-hand experience. Rosea 's was a first-hand encounter with life — not 
as he had dreamed it, not as he had fanticized it, not as he believed it ought to be, 
- - but as he responded realistically to what he had encountered. It was something 
that was born of the very stuff of life! - out of his own soul. 

You can pick almost any section in Rosea equally sublime. Will you remember it - 
the 11th chapter: He's picturing God in human terms. What other terms do we have to 
use . . . 

— he's thinking of God as a father 

— he's thinking of the Children of Israel as his family, 

he's recounting a bit of history 

— he recalls how they were in bondage, they were down in Egypt 

And God who is never less than God is a God who has always had the continuing concern . 
He is never a God who says, "I don't much care." And Rosea has God saying, "When 

Israel was a child I loved him 1 called him out of Egypt, my son.!" He goes on to 

say, reminding us that when they get into the promised land and things became better, 
they became much more interested in other things, and troubled as he is, somewhere in 
Rosea before this 11th chapter when he refers to Ephraim, or eph-ra-eem as the Chil- 
dren of Israel, "Let them go!" There comes a time when anyone who loves has to let 


them go. Psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists delight in telling us: "time 
and space" - - time and space - - time and space - - - it is important" . , . and it is ! 
And God is always giving us time and space. Scripture reminds us of this when He says 
"Ephraim, let him go!" and then as though Hosea pictures God standing there, put- 
ting his hand on his chin in much the same manner as maybe Rembrandt pictures Saint 
Paul with his hand on his forehead - - "Why, I'm the one who taught Israel to walk, I 
took my people up in my arms. They would not acknowledge it, they didn't know that I 
cared for them, I drew them to me with affection and love. 1 picked them up and held 
them to my cheek, I bent down to them and I fed them." That's the way Hosea out of 
his experience is picturing God in His relationship with us, because essentially we're 
the new Children of Israel, we are the people of God. And God is saying, "They're 
not responding as they should." And here is the magnificent, superb, the sublime way 
by which Hosea tells us about a God who is never less than God, because God talking 
aloud, so it would be, says, "How can I give them up? How can I let them go?",.. and 
the words of the text: "I am God! I'm not man. I am the Holy One in their midst." 

Remember it, please don't forget it, God is never less than God. The God of 
Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God who dealt so patiently with the Children of 
Isradl was never less than a God of love and a God of patience. The God of Abraham 
and Isaac and Jacob, the God who is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ is never less 
than God — a God of love. It's a seeking love; He is always looking for us. 

I get impatient with people who say, "Have you found God?" Don't talk like that! 
God's not lost! We're the ones who get lost. And we happen to have a God who keeps 
looking for us, a God of love. And when He looks for us He has this continuing con- 
cern — never detached, never completely abandoning us. Hosea puts it so marvelously, 
"I'm not man." How do you and I behave? When people behave as we think maybe they 
ought not to behave? How do we behave when we make bold to sit in judgment? We blame 
them. God doesn't spend His energy blaming people. This God who is never less than 
God doesn't allow Himself to be crippled by spending energy blaming people. 

Every preacher wants to be remembered. I'm just as human as the next one. After 
I'm no longer here, I'd like some of you to remember me as the person who came to this 
desk for 28 years at least, and kept talking to you about the God who is never less 
than God, who keeps loving us — not blaming us — but loving us. 

And because He provides us that kind of an environment. He wants us always to be 
the children of love. And what is it to be a child of love? It's to pass that love 
on to somebody else. And you remember my definition for love, don't you? — to love is 
always to meet the need in the life of another person. Hosea, thank you for reminding 


us what none of us dare ever forget : the God who is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ 
is never less than God . . . which means we're meant to be never less than His children. 
This I most certainly believe. 

May the peace of God that passeth 
all understanding keep your 
hearts and minds in Christ 
Jesus. Amen. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Eighth Sunday of Pentecost August 5, 1984 


(Romans 8:22,24) 

GRACE, Mercy and peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

On more than one occasion when Pastor David and I might be together, driving 
around making calls, he'd slip Into his cassette radio a tape, either of an experi- 
ence he had encountered where there was a black preacher and a black congregation, 
or whether It was the tape that he had purchased. Every now and then there was a 
particular lilt In his voice when he'd say, "Pop, listen to this one!" And I must 
tell you I was absolutely enthralled at what I heard coming from the pulpit of a 
black preacher. There are some people who maintain that today , If you ever want to 
make certain that you're going to hear the Gospel, head for some black congregation. 

I am pleased to tell you that on occasion I've had the good fortune, when Mr. 
Cofleld was our Senior Custodian, to be with his worshiping group and once or twice 
he asked me to preach. And I've never had an experience quite like It - - 

"Right on, brother!" . . . "Amen! — you tell 'em!" 
And the more they told me that, the longer I spoke! So no wonder you remain quiet! 
Ah, you got It, didn't you! 

But every now and then that preacher would stop, I recall one tape In particular, 
there would be a song. This title I remember, I don't recall all the words of It, but 
you'll recognize the title: "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen! Glory! Hallelujah!" 
As long as I can remember, whenever I've heard the title of that song I can never quite 
figure It out. Really now, how anyone with so much misery, having encountered so much 
trouble In one's life, would be able to sing about It and be able to say "Glory! Halle- 

The sermon that you're about to hear this morning is inspired by the Epistle for 
the day, the second Lesson that Col. Oestereich read. It's the 8th chapter of the 
Epistle, a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians who lived in the Imperial 
City of Rome. It's quite a chapter. I've always been Impressed by it, so much so that 
not so long ago. In a monthly newsletter to our Prayer Partners I encouraged them to 
read it fervently and repeatedly. It's an absolutely magnificent statement of the 
Christian experience. And naturally when we gather at Bethany for our Bethany Fellow- 

' ' GLORY ! HALLELUJAH ! ' ' (2) 

ship, Marion Anderson would occasionally include it as well. 

It's in that 8th chapter of Romans that Paul says some things that are rather hard 
for us to believe. And yet as far as this morning's text is concerned, some of us 
won't have any difficulty at all in understanding what he's talking about. I've taken 
two verses from that entire section that Colonel Oestereich read, and here they are, 
the 22nd and 24th verses of the 8th chapter of Romans : 

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning in 
travail together until now; and not only the creation 
but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the 
Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, 
the redemption of our bodies." 

"... the whole creation groans ..." It's as though the 
world had one grand belly-ache! (that's a free translation) And as a student of the 
Scriptures as I've dealt with this passage of Scripture, I've come to the conclusion 

that Paul is telling us what some of us forget Paul is also telling us to get 

ready for some of us may have to experience that which we've never experienced before. 
Paul is trying to make plain to us that on the agenda of life, for any person, any- 
where, sooner or later he might, or she might be in the position to sing, "Nobody 
knows the trouble I've seen!" 

I'm fully aware of the fact, of course I am, that many of us live today in a high- 
ly protected and sheltered way, we really do! Any number of us haven't much experience 
with handicaps and hardships and misery itself. You see, I belong to a generation that 
remembers when these two words were introduced to our vocabulary: " wonder drugs " — and 
off we go to the physician with our disease or our affliction, he'd prescribe one of 
these so-called 'wonder drugs' . . . we'd go to the pharmacist where he'd give us per- 
haps the medication itself . . . and in a very remarkable period of time some sem- 
blence of recovery set in. And any number of people today know nothing at all about 
the misery and the pain that people physically afflicted fifty years ago had to endure 
and hastened their death. 

Thanks to modern technology, all the comforts we enjoy that free us from incon- 
venience and hardship - - so much so — be honest now! — let somebody tell you that 
you're not going to have a supply of water for six hours, and some of you begin to 
panic; let there be a power outage for as much as three hours, and some people don't 
know how to handle it — suddenly the television is silent, suddenly nothing happens 
when you turn on the radio, and you might have nothing to do but talk to the person 


who happens to be in the room. And some people don't even know how to handle that. 
Thanks to modern technology, we have been freed from any number of things that 
5, 6 decades ago people had to endure in a troublesome way, day after day. So it may 
take a bit of doing for some of us, honestly now, to appreciate what the Apostle Paul 
is saying and as the Negro song echoes: "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen." 

In Paul's case, he was speaking from first-hand experience. Read somewhere — in 
Corinthians — not that he's complaining, honestly, and not that he's berating it. But 
he does give us a recital of some of his misery, presumably for our edification, and 
presumably to stabilize us when we might have to endure only a fraction of what he had 
to experience. One of his chapters, he goes down the list — how many times he was 
beaten, and how he was beaten, and where he was beaten 

— how many times he was ship-wrecked... 

— the times he was abandoned.... 

the times he had to be exposed to the elements without 

any degree of comfort by way of clothing and shelter. 

I remember as a Sunday School youngster going through my Bible, looking at the 
pictures. And to this very day whenever I think of the Apostle Paul I'll remember this 
one: there's that typical Palestine house made out of limestone, two storeys, one storey 
maybe — flat roof here are his friends, with their ropes. They put him in a bas- 
ket - - they're lowering him down steadily and stealthily so that he might be able to 
escape the people who had put a price on his head — 
" Nobody knows the trouble I've seen!" 

...that's what the Apostle Paul is 

saying when he writes in that 8th chapter of the letter to the Christians who lived 
in Rome, when he says, "The whole creation, no matter where I look, I can speak out of 
my own experience — no matter where I look, I can see it: Trouble. .. .Trouble. . .Trouble 
....Trouble — everywhere, and always spelled with a capital T. 

Now, for God's sake, remember this, whatever you understand the Bible to be, it 
deals with life realistically. It tells it as it is. And page after page after page 
Trouble is written is written, largely and boldly. Said the Apostle Paul: "Let's get 
clearly squared off in our minds, let's zero in on it — no matter where you look, the 
whole creation, everywhere, is groaning." 

Now, I think there are two things that need to be said regarding trouble. There 


are some people who can't handle trouble because they don't accept the fact that it 
could happen. They have been free of it for a reasonable period of time. I'm amazed 
how many people there are who can reach 50 years of age without ever having the kind 

of thing that some people can't cope with at 35. Not everyone can be like well, 

let me tell you about her. I'm sorry I can't tell you her first name, I'd give any- 
thing if I could remember it, I have been trying to remember it all morning. I can 
tell you her maiden name — she was the Ockmoody (?) girl who married the Ludwig boy. 
She had four children, two sons, two daughters. Mrs. Ludwig made her living off of 
a truck patch. 

Now for those of you who don't know what a truck patch is, it was a modest acre- 
age that people tilled and cultivated from which they could market their vegetables 
to the community. They made a very simple living that way from their truck patch. 
Hers was located there in South Williamsport , not far from the Susquehanna River. 
It's the Susquehanna River that divides Williamsport proper from South Williamsport. 
And every now and then the Susquehanna would overflow its banks. 

I, as a young pastor, went to see Mrs. Ludwig (whose first name I can't remember), 
and when I went to see her I saw her walking around in her bare feet, trying to reclaim 
as best she could, with her shovel and her stool, what top soil remained after the Sus- 
quehanna River overflowing had brought some devastation on her plot of ground. Her 
livlihood depended upon the quality of that top soil. I, a young pastor, tried to com- 

misserate with her. What do you suppose she said to me? "0, Pastor, it is alright. 

If it wouldn't be the flood it would have been something else." What a marvelous philo- 
sophy! — to be able to accept the fact that around the corner, any hour now. Trouble. 

I'm not built that way. I wish I were. That's why I have been paying more than 
ordinary attention to what the Apostle Paul says. He's giving me to understand that 
it's a fact, that it's inescapable, that it is unavoidable, that sooner or later it's 
going to appear on your agenda. And it happens everywhere. Now that's one thing I can 
tell you. 

The second thing I can tell yoi: is this: the troubles with which we have to deal 
can be caused either by ourselves or by other people. Any number cf people .create - 
their own problems. Any number of people, by virtue of their own personality or their 
temperament, may permit themselves to create a situation that can plague them and cause 
them problems. We do this sometimes in our society; we do it sometimes in our ignorance, 


I'm student enough of history to remember how a half decade ago or more, when immensely 
fertile plains here in our United States became a vast and barren dust-bowl. I'm stu- 
dent enough of history and human nature to know exactly how it happened. As a matter 
of fact, 800 million acres of forest had been reduced by half within the space of a 
hundred years, and the result was a drastic change of climate. It's been said that 
various dry spells dried up the land, the soil turned to dust, the winds blew it away, 
thousands of farmers were ruined and became destitute. Then when at least the rain 
came, there was no vegetation to hold the water which caused devastating floods. All 
of that trouble was caused by people who did what they did and could not look ahead and 
realize the consequences that might be coming one day from what they themselves had done. 

Then there is the kind of trouble that we have to deal with that's caused by some- 
body else and we're caught up in it. We have had no control of it, but we become part 
of the picture, we're part of the scene. We happen to be there. Now please, as earn- 
estly as I can say this, whether we bring trouble on ourselves or whether we suffer 
trouble because of other people, trouble is trouble. 

But wouldn't it be a terrible thing if that's all I had to say to you from this 
sacred desk this morning? But you will remember, won't you, I began by saying, "Nobody 
knows the trouble I've seen - - - Glory! Hallelujah! " Now I think I know why that 
person who could shout like that could shout like that, because that person was echo- 
ing the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul in this marvelous 8th chapter of Romans also 
says, in addition to what text you've heard: "We are saved by hope"! This is also the 
same chapter that has that magnificent verse of Scripture — God help us if we forget 
it — "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, to those who are 
called according to his purpose." It's this passage of Scripture, let God continue to 
speak to us as Paul writes about trouble. It's a fact of life, it's inescapable, it 
is unavoidable. Everybody, sooner or later, has to encounter it. And there is no way 
in this world in which we can ever allow ourselves to believe that trouble can be writ- 
ten off. We live in an imperfect world, we live in a world that's made up of imperfect 
people, we live in a world that is peopled by folks who are stained by original sin. 
Not only that, says the Apostle Paul, from the very beginning, from the dawn of crea- 
tion, from the day of Adam and Eve — the whole creation has been groaning. And even 
those of us, he says, (if I may give you a free translation) who know something of the 
Spirit of God and are already touched by the Spirit of God, we suffer, we hurt. 


But says the Apostle Paul, remember this: while we live in a world where these 
problems will remain, to the very day that we die, and trouble will always be around 
somebody's corner, we can endure it because we can be saved by hope, because ultimate- 
ly God has the last word. And God's word, no matter when it's spoken, is always a 
good word, and the word to be trusted. 

This came in yesterday's mail - - so much happened yesterday I didn't have time 
to read it until I opened the letter at 6:30 this morning 

"If you believe that every prayer 
is heard by God above, 

Then you will share the miracles 

that come through faith and love; 

If you believe each heart-felt hope 
is sent to Heaven's door. 

Then you will know God surely has 
some brighter day in store. 

If you believe God really cares, 
then He will guide you through; 

And all the blessings of His love 

will bring new strength to you." 

This I do believe. 

(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond StiaHeen 

The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost August 12, 1984 

(Romans 8:26-27) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

You know very well that I wouldn't want to embarrass you, rest assured I won't 
do it. But I could do it. Suppose I were to ask you: There were three Lessons read 
this morning by Suzanne, according to custom. The second Lesson consisted of only 
two verses. I won't even ask you what they were, but I could be tempted (but relax, 
I won't) - - I could be tempted to ask you: 

— what did those two verses mean? 

— what was said in those two verses? 

Theyte from that marvelous 8th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, verses 26 and 
27. I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you that in anticipation of standing 
at this particular at this sacred desk I have been asking myself every time I sit 
down to work on this sermon: What shall I make of these two verses? 

— what is the writer really trying to say to us? 
...and if by the grace of God I can interpret these verses under the influence of 
the Holy Spirit, to a waiting congregation, what is it that I should say? Now you 
understand my frame of mine, as I stand before you now, awed by the responsibility 
to interpret God's precious truth? 

Well, let me share with you some of my reactions. But first — you'd better 
hear those verses again: 

" Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: 
for we know not what we should pray for as we 
ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession 
for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what 
is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh inter- 
cession for the saints according to the will of God. " 

Unless you're a student of the Scriptures, unless you've taken time to sit down 
earnestly and pay attention very, very carefully - - as of this moment, unless you 
are a student of the Scriptures, you need some measure of enlightenment. 

Well now, if you don't mind, let me begin in this manner. As I've studied 


this passage I'm tremendously impressed by the fact that Paul is being very honest 
with us. He's my hero, he's my giant in the faith. Every single one of us needs 
giants, every single one of us needs heroes. .. .every single one of us needs people 
to be put on pedestals. We need people to whom we look up. 

I've always looked up to Paul, and I thank God that he was the kind of man 
that he was, that he did the kind of thing that he did. And wherever the Christian 
influence will be spread, the name of Paul will have to be dealt with and referred 
to with affection and esteem. Make no mistake about that. 

And I'm included among some people who'd be willing to he as expansive in 
my mood as to say that perhaps no one — who can tell? — but perhaps no one has 
ever lived who was ever a more earnest follower of Jesus Christ than this born- 
again man, Paul, who counted his mission in life to go anywhere , everywhere , at 
any price, to do nothing less than to talk about Jesus Christ — crucified, risen, 
glorified - - he went placarding the world for Jesus Christ: 

"I know nothing except Jesus Christ." 
...he's the man who said, "For me to live is Christ! Christ lives in me!" 
He's my hero.... my giant. 

But I need to say this to you very parenthetically, when I study the Scrip- 
tures I'm also grateful that the Scriptures tell it just as it is. The Bible is a 
very honest book. It tells us good things about bad people, and it also tells us 
some of the weaknesses of the good people. That's one reason why some of us trust 
the Scriptures, it's very honest. So when I come to this passage of Scripture 
that Suzanne read for us as the second Lesson for the Day, my first reaction: 

Paul - - you, too! 
Why do I say that? 

Paul — you have the same problem that I have! 

— you, my giant in the faith! 

— you whom I believed could handle anything ! 

You see, what some of you don't know, when during the Lenten season I gave 
you a School in Prayer, when all of our Bible studies dealt with the Biblical con- 
cept of prayer - - I was needing that more than you may realize, because in my 
prayer life in recent weeks and months an entirely new and different dimension has 
been added. 

I can't remember when I didn't pray, honestly I can tell you that. And 
two of the strongest influences on my life came from my grandmother, my maternal 


grandmother as a child I passed by her bedroom door 

• o she spoke only Arabic, she couldn't speak a single 

word of English, and I was very young, but young enough 
to have an impression made on me . . . her door was ajar... 
she was a devout Roman Catholic. . .and the only memory that 
I have of that woman has left a mark on the fabric of my 
soul ... as I passed by the door I saw her sitting up in 
bed, with her nightgown on, and her night-cap (this goes 
back more than 60-some years ago).... and she had her rosary 
in her hands, she was saying her prayers. 

To this very day before I get out of bed in the morning I say my prayers. 

1 can't remember when prayer wasn't a very real thing to me. But in recent weeks 

and months there has been an entirely new and different dimension added to my prayer 

experience, so that I can identify with Paul so easily now — of course it may be 

because my giant, my hero, my man-on-the-pedestal — what's he saying in this verse 

of Scripture? 

"We don't know how to pray — likewise the 
Spirit helps us in our weakness for we do 
not know how to pray as we ought." 

What an admission to make. We are taught to pray. 

Jesus Christ realizes how essential it is that we pray because that made the 
difference in His life. You never really see Jesus Christ until you see Him as a 
Man-of-prayer. And one of the disciples — you remember I told you this — makes 
the discovery of his life when he caught Jesus praying, and he came and said, 
"Jesus, teach us!" . . . and Jesus stopped right then and there and said, "All right, 
whenever you pray - - " And then He gave us a pattern for praying. It's so essential 
for us that we be praying persons. And this same Jesus who taught us to pray, also 

said, "Ask, and it will be given to you 

Seek, and you shall find.... 

Knock, and it shall be opened to you and if you ask anything 

in my name, you'll get it"! 
And I've taken Him as His word, and I've asked. And I honestly believe I was asking 
in His name. And I haven't gotten it! 

I've learned one thing through this whole encounter with praying, and that 
is, you have to take certain things that Jesus said and balance them out. Sometimes 
we fail to do that. This same Jesus who said: 

"Ask . . . seek . . . find . . . knock — and you'll get it" 


is the same Jesus who said to them, "You can't have it." That's in the Bible too! 
Here was the request of James and John, who couldn't think of anything more wonder- 
ful — and you couldn't eitheri — I would not fault anyone if in the presence of 
Jesus Christ you would have done what they did, and said, "When it's all over and 
you're in the Kingdom, we love you so much, we cherish the thought of it — we 
want to be as near to you as we possibly can. Jesus, tell us you'll do it for us!" 

....and they were His friends who were asking that question.... 
And Jesus said, "No." It's in the Bible! They were praying, they were asking. 
James, said by some to be brother, or half-brother, to our Lord — he's the one 
who says as he writes in the Bible — "Sure, you pray. And you really have trouble 
in your praying because you ask amiss" - - this is the part of Scriptural truth with 
which we need to deal. It isn't that we don't pray, it's that we don't know how to 
pray aright. 

And that's because most of us are human, as over against being spiritual 
in regard to our personality and our outlook on life. The person who thinks in terms 
only of his humanity and not of his spirituality, when he prays is always asking 
something from God for himself or herself....... 

— when I'm sick I want God to make me well 

— when I'm in dire circumstances I want God to free me and 

get me out of that bondage, whatever it may be 

— when I find out that there are people who don't like me, I 

ask God to get into those people and to make them like me.... 

— when I'm in a situation with which I cannot cope, I have to ask 

God to do something about it — to extricate me 

....that's the natural man who is praying. The natural man, when he's praying, is 
always trying to get God to be bent to my^ level. Honestly, I know you that well, 
and I know myself that well ! 

But there is such a thing as the spiritual person. Now when that person 
prays, it isn't that he wants God to bend to his level and to answer according to 
the way that person wants God to answer. But when the spiritually-minded person 
prays, he prays as Jesus prayed - - that what's God's will should be accomplished, 
that what God has in mind might come to pass. That's where you and I also have 
some problems. That's why some of us can't pray aright, because we don't have the 
wisdom of God. We can't see it from God's point of view, we can only see it from 
our limited point of view. The frank admission may have to be, as Paul himself, 
my giant, my hero, my man-on-the-pedestal said - - "We really don't know how to 
pray aright." 


But that doesn't mean we should quit praying! Of course not! But there 
happens to be one who, when we fail to pray, takes over in our behalf, and I'll 
tell you a bit about that later. 

My heart is always warmed when as the Pastor of this congregation I find 
people coming inside the church during the week to pray. Would to God I had the 
time and energy to be down here and open the church every morning, say at 7:00 
o'clock — or maybe every evening at 10:00 o'clock — just to be here and to let 
anyone know that the doors are open and that the person is free to come, at other 
hours, when the church is ordinarily closed. .. ^hoping of course that they might take 
advantage of the opportunity to come when the church ordinarily is open. Human as 
we are, we need to be found in certain places where it's made easier for us to think 
the thoughts of God. Human as we are, we need to be in certain places where we're 
surrounded by things that remind us of God's presence and His truth - - the Bible, 
the Ceoss, the altar - - - my heart is strangely warmed when I find somebody in 
here praying. And as you might know, I try to keep a respectful distance when some- 
one is approaching the Throne of Grace. 

But I remember and remember so well the day I passed by the door of the 
Chapel of The Grateful Heart, and saw a person who was a member of this parish even 

before I came, standing there in the middle aisle I could sense the desperation 

of the burden. As respectfully as I could I walked up and put my hand on his shoulder, 
He turned to me, and he told me exactly why he was there. And I recognized at once 
the burden that was weighing him down.... and in all honesty, complete candor, all 
he could say was "Pastor, I've come to pray and I don't know how to pray." That's 
our dilemma! When we're honest, and try to pray spiritually from God's perspective 
we really don't even know how to talk to God in a way that God will honestly allow 
us to talk to Him, because we're so stained by original sin and we can be so selfish 
in our prayers. 

But the glorious thing about this passage of Scripture from this person whom 
I placed on my pedestal — Paul says, "Sure, I don't know how to pray, but I have 
good news for you. The Spirit takes over and the Spirit intercedes - - God knows 
that we don't know how to pray as we ought to pray." So God keeps Himself in the 

I reach back into the past every now and then to share something with you. 
It could have been some 35 years ago now, when I laid her husband to rest in Wild- 
wood Cemetery in the northern part of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She and her hus- 
band had grown up in my home town, I knew them and knew them well. And I knew the 


problems with which they had to deal in life. I also knew that he was the joy^ of 
her life I also knew he was the source of strength. He was taken suddenly, with- 
out any warning. And her whole life collapsed. She couldn't possibly think of life 
without him, especially when she realized the burden of responsibility which she'd 
have to carry by herself, a particular family problem that he had master-minded in 

dealing with it, and now he was gone. Bewildered and confused and beaten as 

she walked away from that grave to the waiting car I can still hear, what in my 
judgment I can tell you was a perfect prayer - - "0, God" ... a couple more steps 

we took "0, God!" and that was the gro aning of her soul 

...she reached the car door: "0, God!" 

She didn't know how to pray aright— in bewilderment and in confusion, but she was 
praying the perfect prayer ~ the groaning of her soul that was crying out to God. 

In a certain sense we're all as children in God's sight. You reach a certain 
age - - let me prepare you for it - - when you go back into the past , and you remem- 
ber. I remember so well when our boys were children, I remember so well when David 
and Jon, as tiny tots, would waken Winifred and me as we were sleeping by their cry- 
ing. - - was it a nightmare? Something had interrupted their sleep — we were wakened 
by the sobbing and the crying of a child. And with the instinct that belongs to a 
father and a mother, either one of us might get out of bed and go and cradle that 
child in our arms, a child that's sobbing, without uttering a word, but crying. And 
with whatever comfort we could give as a father or a mother, that comfort came as we 
took over . We're all as children in God's sight, we're all as children crying in the 
night. And God takes over. 

That's what Paul's telling us - - sure, you don't know how to pray aright! 
You're not that good to begin with, and you don't know enough, and you don't see the 
whole picture. And furthermore, you have this difficulty that you get this foolish 
notion as though when you pray God's going to answer immediately: "Yes" - - - "No" - - 
as though He's on the other end of the telephone. And God doesn't answer that way. 
God answers in the course of events! It's only a little later on that His hand is 
revealed and we see it. But human as we are, we want to keep God as though He's on 
the other end of the telephone - - we're not going to hang up until we get a "Yes" 
out of God. 

What did Jesus say we should call God? — "Father" - - parent — a father and a 
mother don't deserve to be called 'Father' and 'Mother' if they jump through the hoops 
every time a child asks for something. They're worthy of the name only if when they 
answer, they answer according to their wisdom, as well as their love. So in this tre- 


mendous two verses of Scripture Paul's saying, "It's really good news I have for 
you! Sure, you don't know how to pray aright, but God knows what's best! And He'll 
pray in your behalf if you trust Him that His will may be done. 

Now let me tell you this if you don't mind, I've never wanted to be less than 
personal and honest with you from the very first day that I became your Pastor, And 
I've never hesitated to be transparent. Some years back, I've forgotten when it was, 
I had a problem that was more than I could handle. That happens frequently, but that 
was the first time in my life that I ever had one as serious as that. And so I 
turned the ignition key and drove all the way down from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 
to Gettysburg, where I needed to sit with my mentor in the faith, Harvey Daniel Hoover, 
the man who had married Winifred and me, the man who baptized David, the man who bap- 
tized Jon. Fortunately, he was available. We went to his study. I immediately felt 
relaxed because his study was more cluttered than mine! 

With his great big pastor's heart he encouraged me to speak. We put the problem 
in front of us. And then he did something that I hope I never forget — he said, "Let's 
think about it together. With whatever wisdom God gives us, let's try to think about 
it as earnestly and as objectively as we can." 

....and after we had done that, he said, "Now, Raymond, we're going to 
pray." . . . 
He didn't say, "Get down on your knees, Raymond — he didn't have to tell me that be- 
cause he was getting down on his knees. And on our knees together, he turned to me and 
he said, "Now, Raymond, you go ahead and pray first." And I did. And I laid bare my 
soul to God, and 1 tried to tell God exactly as I thought, and presumably as maybe I 
thought it ought to be answered. Because honestly I felt I was praying in Jesus' name. 

And then he prayed. He said, "Rajnnond, now I'll pray." - - the substance of the 

words: "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm also your child, and I believe my prayer to be an 

honest prayer." But rooted and grounded in Scripture, Dr. Hoover concluded his prayer 

in this manner, as he must have remembered the words of the Apostle Paul — 

"Heavenly Father, we really don't know how to pray aright, so give my 
brother Raymond, and give me as well, the assurance that if you can't 
hear his prayer, and you can't hear mine, then hear the prayer that 
Jesus, sitting at your right hand, is offering this very moment in 
our behalf." 

And therein lies our hope. Cradled as children in the arms of God in our utmost need, 

if we will trust Him - - He takes over! And in the course of events we discover His 

answer as we allow ourselves to be bent according to His purpose and suited according 

to His will. This I most certainly Believe. 

* A * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost August 19, 1984 

CRomans 8: 28) 

GOD, we make so little time to do this 
sort of thing, to give some measure of 
undivided attention to the interpreta- 
tion of Your truth. That we should make 
the most of it now, forgive us our sins, 
enlighten us by Your Holy Spirit, that 
we may be nurtured by Your truth. Through 
Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord, Who when 
He came, came preaching. Amen. 

As I stand before you at this particular moment, my mind goes back across the 
years when I was a youngster in Sunday School. My debt to my Sunday School teachers 
will remain very, very great. From my vantage-point today, I would have to say as 
truthfully as the case might warrant it, some of them were not the best of Bible 
scholars, surely none of them was theologically literate. But they kept their ap- 
pointment in Bethany Lutheran Church, Montour sville, Sunday after Sunday, and met 
with us youngsters in a Sunday School class situation. My debt to them is very great. 

You've heard me tell you before, my father an immigrant, my mother the daughter 
of immigrant parents, by today's standards academically, both of them would be de- 
clared illiterate. I don't remember any of them ever reading, then, to me from the 
Bible. Not that they didn't revere God's Word as they read it in their own language. 
But much that I early learned about Scriptural truth I got from my Sunday School 

I'm telling you this for two reasons. To the day I die I want always to be 
able to say "Thank you." That's one of the things my mother taught me. 

I also remember that when I went to Sunday School, we were taught to memorize 
certain verses of Scripture. We had what we referred to in those days as "memory 
verses" or "the text for the day." Weren't they written on little cards, and they 

were given to us? and then from one Sunday to the next when we came back we'd 

be given a chance to recite and to show how well we had memorized what we had been 
assigned. To some of us it was an embarrassing moment, we didn't always remember as 
well as we should have.... 

....and then if we memorized so many, didn't we get the 
collection of cards, and then when we'd accumulate so many, didn't 
we get a pin or something? 
I remember some of those verses to this day. 


Some of them excited me no end 

— John 3:16 ... If one were to remember only one verse In the Bible, 

that should be the verse above all verses. — 

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten 
Son that whoever believes in him should not perish 
but have everlasting life." 

and if 1 am conscious when I am dying, may those 

words of Scripture be on my lips — taught to me in Sunday School 

— and then I remember how excited I was when I was taught to memorize: 

" A new commandment I give you, that you love one another." 

I love people, you know that, don't you? By nature I am kindly-disposed 

toward people. And I was excited to know that that was Scriptural truth, 

that that's the way we're meant to behave as children of God, to love one 

another. I find contention disdainful. . .hostility is alien to my spirit. 

So I was excited, you see, when I was told to memorize that one — love... 

love .... love 

Oh, I could go on verse after verse, but I want to tell you this morning, the one 
that troubled me — and if you won't be too hard on me — it's taken me a long, long 
while, even after I memorized it years ago, to have the appreciation for that verse 
that it deserves. I never fully came to grips with it until I came to finish this 
sermon! Col. Clemens read it for you as the second Lesson for the day. It's from 
that glorious 8th chapter of Romans. But tucked away in that 8th chapter are these 
words that have literally, actually haunted me. Now don't be too hard on me, I have 
a high regard for Scripture and I accept Scriptural truth. But I've had my moments 

when I almost said, "I don't believe it I don't believe it I don't believe 

it!" Well, here it is: 

" For we know that all things work together 
for good to those who love the Lord. " 

"All things work together for good? to those who love the Lord?" 

Listen to this frank recital, and understand all over again why I've argued 
with Paul on this text. But before I give you that recital, Paul says, "We know...." 

— he doesn't say, "It's my considered opinion ..." 

— he doesn't say, "At this particular time in my life when the sun 
is shining brilliantly and all is going well, I am happy to tell you 
that everything that happens works for good to those who love the 
Lord ..." 

— he didn't happen to say, "According to the basis of my experience 
this far in life, I want you to know that I'm inclined to think that 


this could be so . . . " Not at all! 
It's as positive as it can Be "We know." 

— not: "I think ..." 

— not: "I'm inclined to accept this as a possibility ..." 

but: " We know , . " 

I have had my moments when I think it could have been written by Paul in one 
of his better days, when all was going well. I remember not so long ago in a Con- 
firmation class, while we were trying to pass some time until the class formally 
began, I said to a youngster, "Did you have a good day today?" 
...and he said, "Yup - yup - had a good day." 
And then I said to him, "Well, what makes a good day?" 
...and God bless him, he simply answered, 
"When nothing goes wrong." 
And that's the way it is for a number of people - - things are wonderful as long as 
nothing goes wrong. And even though God put His imprimatur on this world when He 
created it, and said, "It's good" - - evil came into the picture. And you can't deny 

Now my recital. I've had this running argument with Paul who says: 
" Everything works together for good to those 
who love the Lord ' 

but still, "Everything works together for good"? 

you could walk it in less than five minutes, I dare say, maybe a 

little bit more, from where you're seated right now — you go out on the 
Highland Drive entrance or exit, you take the oblique to the left, 

that's Fairview Road you walk to the end of Fairview Road and you 

come to the public parking lot nearest to this place... 

in broad daylight - it's still unsolved - a woman walks 

unsuspectingly to her car, accosted by a man with a gun, 
who shoots her in cold blood — just like that! 

, .. that's, evil! What good comes from that? 

....Pastor David told me once when he looked out the second story of 
10.06. Dale Drive, before the Enlarged Facility was constructed, when 

we had parking directly below, behind us 

—very early in the morning he saw a woman walking across the 
parking lot, with her hand-bag stringing along by her side... 
a car comes down Highland Drive, stops abruptly, engine remains 
running, the door remains open, the man runs across the parking 


lot, grabs the wonjan's purse, back to the car, off he goes! 
...this thing works together for good? — that's evil! 
....I'd just been at prayers In the Chapel of The Grateful Heart, some time 
ago.. . .within a matter of minutes, not the first house, the parsonage of the 
Senior Pastor, the second house - - the third house, right next door to us... 

— an Intruder, at mid-day, brutally attacks the young mother with 
her precious children, and escapes - - 

"...all things work together for good"? 

— this family that goes to Mass on Sunday — 
" those who love the Lord"? 

I've had trouble with this text. I'm being very honest with you. And I've argued 
with Paul. Evil is evil, and evil is in this world. And when you say "All things" 
you're embracing everything, and that means you embrace evil. But I can't shake Paul 
of his conviction. I've tried. The Scripture still remains: "We know" - - and evi- 
dently it Included a number of people with him who stood on that same solid ground. 

Now listen to this. I'm going to read it for you so you don't miss a single 

"... At the end of August, 1967, Susan, a fine young American 
girl of eighteen was packing her suitcases prior to her going on 
holiday, when a violent man broke into her home and attacked her. 
After a fierce struggle Susan escaped and staggered down the lane, 
battered, stabbed and dying, to collapse and to die in her grand- 
mother's arms a hundred yards away. 

What a tragedy for her parents, what a tragedy for her brother Ed. 
What a tragedy for her grandmother. ..." 

"All things work together for good"? 
Paul, I'm still having trouble with that. You said it. I want to believe. By the 
time this sermon is concluded — relax! — you will be given to know in no uncertain 
way that I can say, "Paul, move over — move over, Paul! I understand, I'm with you. 
I say the same thing ! " 

What is this certainty then, that Paul had, in view of the fact that every one 
of us has either gone through a time of deep distress, when all the lights go out — 
or will go out at some time to come. No doubt, I'm convinced after all these years 
in the ministry, that none escapes it. And I'm convinced this morning as I stand be- 
fore you that we can do nothing more useful than discover what this mastery of commit- 
ment, what this mastery of conviction really is, and what It's meant to do for us. 
I am convinced that all things do not work together for good because that's the same 
as saying that whatever it is that happens, evil as it may be, that it's all right! 
And I can't say that. 


I still believe that there is such a thing as evil in the world. I'm numbered 
among those who unhesitatingly admit that I believe in a personal devil. I believe 
in the force of evil. 1 believe in Satan — that there is Satan. If I didn't believe 
it for any other reason I'd believe it for this reason; as evidenced by the girl who 
came from a fundamentalist home, and went off to college and was exposed to a liberal 
professor who pooh-poohed the idea of a personal devil, and said, "Have done with it! 
It's an idea that's run its course, we've outgrown it, it's excess baggage! Free 
yourself from the notion that there's such a thing as Satan." 

...and God bless her, all that she could do was this, as she 
addressed the professor: "Sir, if you say there is no such 
thing as Satan, then will you please tell me who it is. that's, 
carrying on his work?" 
And the evidence of evil remains. 

Now what are you going to do with this text? — "All things work together for 

good to those who love the Lord" I found help by going beyond that King James 

translation, which I love, and on which I was reared. The New English Bible transla- 
tion, the Revised Standard version, helps me tremendously - - listen how they put it 

for us, which sheds a brand new light "For we know that all things work together 

for good to those who love the Lord" all things work together for good that's 

what troubled me. 

- - the New English Bible said: 

"In every thing, as we know, he cooperates for good with 
those who love God and are called according to his purpose. " 

- - or the Revised Standard Version: 

"We know that in every thing God is working for good for 
those who love him" 

Now there! that's what I have been waiting for! Evil is evil, and evil exists. 

But God is always greater. 

On my shelves I have a book that bears a fascinating title: "God Is Always Greater " 
...and this God of ours, the God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is at work 
even while evil is at work and to those who love Him, He cooperates with us in learn- 
ing how to handle that evil that may so easily beset us. God will not be out-done by 
evil. Evil remains the second most powerful force in the world, it never gets beyond 

that. God is always greater "We know then that In everything God is working for 

good, and for those who love him." - - Now that simply means that you and I have to 
keep ourselves in love with God, that means we have to keep our eyes focused on God, 
that means we have to keep our relationship with God vital - - and as we keep our rela- 


tionshlp vital with God He will not abandon us. 

You can be crippled by tlie evil tbat confronts you, it can be debilitating, it 
can do it. Or on the other hand, if you put your trust in God, and you keep your 

eye on God, God says, "1 will go to work with you." Evil is not ruled out but 

God says, "I will not let it do you in." 

It's been said that one of the most effective sermons to be preached in recent 
years is the sermon of a black preacher whose title for that sermon was simply this: 


It's crucifixion but God has a resurrection on His schedule. 

Let me go on now and finish this for you: 

"... What a tragedy for her parents, her brother Ed 
and her grandmother ..." 

, , . ^this 18-year-old who was attacked and died. Yet 
somehow her family found God's Spirit cooperating 
with them, even in that ghastly murder, and a 
month later Susan's mother wrote a wonderful let- 
ter to a minister friend. .. .listen now to the letter: 

" . . Isn't it a good thing that we can't see into the 
future? Who could have imagined such a tragedy that day 
we parted? Even now it doesn't seem possible. Nobody 
can tell me that this was God's will. I know better. 
He had other plans for Sue's life, I'm quite sure. But 
I'm equally sure that He can use this horrible thing in 
some way for His glory and for His Kingdom. 

For one thing, it has had an impact on Ed and other 
young people in the community, it has made them think as 
they had never thought before. It has made me get back 
into youth work in the church. I've taken the inter- 
mediate class, and my husband the senior youth. We 
realized as never before the importance of young people 
growing up with God . . . 

(Now you'll understand why she's saying this when you hear this, as 
Susan's mother continued) 

"... I have no doubt in my mind that Sue was ready to die. 

And then as my Uncle Edward said, she's unfolding her bags 
on the other side. AH the same her passing has left a deep, 
deep hole in our lives, and 1 feel at times that my heart 
will break. 

Her funeral was a triumphant occasion: Bach - "A Mighty 
Fortress" - "0 Jesus, I Have Promised" . . . 

(She continues in this, her letter to her minister friend) 

" . . .We're taking up the threads of our lives again now, 
and though the pattern won't be what we had planned, we 
pray it will still be beautiful — even more so for having 
had my Susan for 18 happy years ..." 


That's a wonderful letter, and the man who put it in front of me and said that I 
could share it with you says, "It's almost too sacred to quote." But there shines 
through it clearly this perfect confidence and trust in God that in all things God 
can still Be at work to those who love Him, and focus their attention upon Him, 
who make Him their primary loyalty. 

Now I must tell you this; as you know I have never hesitated to be transparent 
and honest and frank and personal. One of the grandest gentlemen that I've ever 
known, one of God's noblemen, Elwood Francis DeLong . . . as an octogenarian he did 
for us the Chapel of The Grateful Heart. Occasionally we would have chats together. 
He'd tell me about his past, he'd tell me about his struggles, he'd tell me about 
the things he had to endure. It was not always an easy life. There wasn't a cloud 
on my horizon. And so I suppose he seemed in duty bound to talk to me as a father 
would talk to his son - - as much as to say, 

"Raymond, it's bound to come, but don't let it do you in — 
don't let anything in life -(tell your people thls}- 
debilitate them and cripple them. Go on to write the next 
chapter. Try a new beginning." 

And then he said something that's absolutely superb, and to the day I die I hope 
I'll never forget it. Listen carefully now, for the conclusion, just don't stop at 
mid-point. He said, 

"Raymond, just don't go on living just somehow. Go on living 
Said the Apostle Paul: "We know" - - God cooperates with us, 

- - God's our helper, 

- - God's our friend, 

- - God's our strength .... 

- - God is always greater. 

Will you do me a favor? remind me of the words that I'm about to use as 

this sermon ends. Help me never to forget them. This I do believe. 

* * * 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Eleventh Sunday of Pentecost August 26, 1984 


(Not to be Bored) 
Romans 8 

GRACE, mercy and peace from 
God our Father and from his Son 
Jesus Christ, our Blessed Lord. 

A certain percentage of the calls we receive here at Saint Luke for either a bap- 
tism, or a wedding, or a funeral, may come from people who have no formal relationship 
with this congregation. You will be pleased to know that when I began my ministry I 
made up my mind that I would never refuse an opportunity to witness for my Lord when 
a call would come from such a person. I would never want to think of myself as being 
limited to ministering in the name of Jesus Christ only to those people whose names 
might appear on the roster of the congregation that I was called upon to serve. 

George Sweezey, in his excellent book on evangelism maintained that any pastor who 
will do this sort of thing — make himself available for this type of ministry, whether 
they are members of the parish or not — will be able to build up over a reasonable per- 
iod of time, a significant number of prospects because you have been given an op- 
portunity, you see, to witness in the name of Jesus Christ to these people who turn to 
the church. And it could well be, if we wanted to do it right now, we could ask some of 
you to stand whose first contact with this church was when you wanted to have a child 
baptized, or there was a death in your family, or you came when you wanted to be married. 

Now I tell you all of this for the simple reason that I try not to forget that when 
I have an encounter with people under such circumstances, that I try to remember who I 
am. I'm God's agent, I'm God's servant. I'm there to be with them in behalf of God. 

Now I must tell you that when a couple come to be married, and they may be people 
that I've never met before, they're quite surprised when I introduce into the questions: 

— what's your church membership? 

— have you ever been baptized? 

— have you ever been confirmed? 

I have a little form, you see, where I check this information. Years ago, when people 
did not have an active relationship to the church, they might answer in an embarrassed 
way, or they'd hem and they'd haw a bit. Not so any more! Any number of folk now tell 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (2) 

me without any hesitation, "Well, we just don't go to church." And when I also ask them 
later on in the interview, "Where does the church figure in your future?" some very honest- 
ly and without any hesitation say, "We don't have any plans for the church in our future." 
It gives me a golden opportunity, you see, to talk to them about going to church. 

I'm sorry I have to tell you this, but I think statistics could prove it, that there 
are more people in this so-called 'nation under God' who don't go to church on a given Sun- 
day than people who do. And when I realize that this is true, and I find myself being con- 
fronted by people who don't go to church or the synagogue and I am in a position to ask 
them - - - some of the answers that I get are polite, and some are quite impolite — some 
are honest, and some aren't very honest. But every now and then I do get an answer, even 
though it's in the negative, that I'm constrained to respect. 

Take as an example that fellow who wrote an article a few years back in the "Literary 
Times . " He was a member of the Anglican Church, but he confessed that he did not attend 
services as often as' he should. When he asked himself why he, a religious person, did not 
take the opportunity of building up his faith and of strengthening his spiritual life.... 
— that is, wanting to be with people like you - - why don't people want 
to be with us? - - or to be in a place such as this on a particular day 
of the week? 
...why wouldn't people want to be in a place such as this on a particular day in the week? 
Well, this fellow had to admit that he found much that he heard or experienced in church 
simply boring. That's why he gave up going to church. And that, mark you, I am in a posi- 
tion to say, he was maintaining at a time when any number of congregations were trying to 
'spruce up" their services with so-called contemporary forms, folk masses, guitars, bongo 
drums and the like. And yet he could say that even when he went under those conditions, 
he found it boring. Said he in lamentable fashion, and honest, "What I want when I go to 
church is something that I can get nowhere else, a message that the world cannot give, nor 
take away. There should be something in the Christian message and in the Christian wor- 
ship that is unique and for which there is no substitute." 

As I come to you this morning and stand at this particular desk I want to confess to 
you that I could not be in anything less than agreement with the person who speaks so free- 
ly and so frankly. My chief concern would be that no member of this congregation would 
ever have to speak as he has spoken. We do not intend to entertain you, we do not intend 
to excite you in the hour that you spend here. But we do hope and pray that while you are 
here you are not bored. But to the contrary, that you should be challenged, inspired, and 
edified — as at no other time and as perhaps in no other place. 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (3) 

There are reasons why this should be true. As an example, whenever we come to a place 
such as this and associate with people such as you we lift ourselves beyond our own hori- 
zon. We think in terms of spiritual truths, we think in terms of the eternal verity. And 
like as not, we hear the echo of a gallant soul across the corridors of time. We deal 
with this Book that's in front of us, ageless as it is, and every now and then we echo a 
voice — a voice heard a long time ago, with a message that you will not hear anywhere 

Every now and then it's my privilege to stand here and to tell you that what I'm tell- 
ing you, I'm telling you on the basis of someone else's experience whom I have come to 
trust and respect , the giants in the faith who appear within these holy pages ~ someone 
such as the Apostle Paul, the author of the words that were read as the second Lesson for 
today — when he talked about absolutely nothing being able to separate us from the love 

of Christ a person who when he spoke could say, "I know I believe I am per- 

suaded I am sure ..." And if that were not enough, I would hope that by this 

time when you hear the voice of the person who stands at this sacred desk before you now, 
that you do not hear the sound of a uncertain trumpet. For out of the fulness of my life 
given to Jesus Christ I have not come to share with you fanciful notions, I have not come 
to share with you hopes and dreams. Phillips Brooks, the beloved Pastor of Trinity Church 
in Boston, used to say, and said it well, that preaching is the communication of truth 

through personality and by that he meant Scriptural truth through the very fires and 

the very fiber and the very soul of someone who has been bathed in Scripture, who is com- 
mitted to Jesus Christ. 

Dr. Alfred Noyes once said that when he found himself in a disheartened or a discour- 
aged mood, he often turned for relief to the published letters of Robert Lewis Stevenson. 
It's a heartening and inspiring thing when moments of discouragement come to get in touch 
with a great soul. You know, that's what we do when we come together. Whatever preaching 
that can be shared with you like as not is the echo of a soul that's been touched by 
Jesus Christ, a witness again from the day when the church was very young. And you and I 
need to keep in touch with gallant souls who can lift our spirits and give us courage. 
There are some people in whose presence I simply must be found, for I gather strength 
from all that they represent. 

I cannot begin to tell you how great my debt is to our venerable Sister Mildred, who 
is going to spend the month of September with us ~ a woman of tremendous integrity, a 
woman who has fought the battle for Jesus Christ across the decades, someone who just 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (4) 

hasn't dropped down fully fashioned from Heaven, but who struggled with the faith and 
comes out the victor, thanks to Jesus Christ. People such as this one. People, I dare 
say, such as you, here and there, in whose presence I need to be found in order to draw 
a measure of strength. 

By the same token there are some people I have to shun . I cannot afford to spend 
too much time with them. They can negate whatever courage I'm trying to muster, they 
can dampen my spirit. 

Did you ever think of it from this perspective, that every time we come together we 
find ourselves thinking of the gallant ones in the faith, the ones who have struggled, 
the ones who are able to say, "This I know to be true!" There are passages in the let- 
ters written to Christian churches in the New Testament which contain heartening words 
which we can read for our health in trying hours. Take these closing verses of the 8th 
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, read as the second Lesson for today. They come to 
offer us help and inspiration. They are written with wonderful assurances and unshakable 
certainty. For the Christian in the world there is so much that conspires to lay him 
low. A realistic reading of life is this, that life can do you in. You may not realize 
it, my friend, but there are some things worse than death.... and on occasion it can be 
life itself. There are moments when death can be very merciful, there can be times when 
life itself can be brutal — badger you, break you. That's why the Apostle Paul could 
say: "... whether it be death or whether it be life ..." his conviction remains the 

In that magnificent ending of that 8th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans he raises 

a question, and then he goes on to answer out of the depth of his own soul. The question 

is: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 
As it is written, 

'For thy sake we are being killed all 
the day long; 

we are regarded as sheep to be slaugh- 
tered. ' 
No, in all these things we are more than conquer- 
ors through him who loved us " 

And listen to this. This is no novice speaking now, this is no person fresh from divinity 
school standing in the pulpit in his first year saying, "I hope that what I am telling you 
is true." 

This is a man speaking out of his own experience, winding up his ministry, looking back 
over what he has seen, looking back over what he has gone through. And at this point in 
his life he's giving us the bottom line - - - "For I am convinced, or as Dr. Kaufman read 


it, "I am sure neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor 
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate 
us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

Paul is writing, I dare say, as he begins his last journey toward Jerusalem, and he's 
fully aware of what awaits him. Not all of us can read the future. He had a pretty good 
idea of what was yet to come — much more of the same thing than had already occurred. 
And for him that wasn't a happy thought. 

You remember how he wrote to the Christians who lived in the wicked city of Corinth, 
when he was trying to give them a measure of courage — a gallant soul trying to build the 
fire of faith within them. He wrote of his own record in life. Boldly and frankly he re- 
ferred to himself. "Let me tell you something," says Paul, " I speak as though I am stand- 
ing alongside of myself" (which is simply saying, 'I want to speak to you as objectively 
as I can'). " Life can do you in ..." 

— his way of saying there are some worse things, perchance, than death. 
" I have been in labors more abundantly than anybody else ..." 

— which is saying, "I've worked harder at this business 
of being a Christian than any number of you people can 
stand up and say that you've had a hard time of it ... " 

" I have been in prisons more often than any of you ..." 

— "Look at my back! You can't even count the number of 
stripes that I have been given; it hasn't been easy! 

" I have been near death many a time . . . 

(I'm giving you a free translation now) 

— "Five times received I forty stripes at the hand of a 

Jew, save one. 

— Three times I was beaten — not with a cord, not with 
a stick — three times I was beaten with rods . 

" Once I was stoned ..." 

— You've never seen a stoning, have you? When some of us 
have taken pilgrimages to the Holy Land we've stood at a 
particular vantage-point and we've looked down into a pit, 
where they would in years gone by throw a person, only to 
bombard him with rocks, one after another, until he was left 
at death's door — bones broken, body battered, bruised and 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (6) 

" Three times I suffered shipwreck . . . a nigh t 
and day have I been In the deep " 

— not three hours, not two hours, not a night, but a night and a day! 

"I have had troublesome, dangerous times in the river. .. .I've had to 

put up with robbers I've had to put up with my own countrymen, who did 

not deal kindly with me, to say nothing about the Gentiles I've had 

troubles in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea often I have been 

hungry, often I have been thirsty, I have been cold, I have been naked 

That's what I've had in life. It hasn't been easy!" 

My dear mother, of blessed memory, when I walked away as we laid my father to rest, 
we spoke as though a whole lifetime now, in capsule fashion, was in front of us, recall- 
ing their years together, the terrible struggle they had ~ she, the daughter of an im- 
migrant and he an immigrant peddler himself ~ when even though the outstretched hand 

of Lady Liberty said "You're welcome!" they had to fight for acceptance in one commu- 
nity after another. We have not always been gracious to strangers. Sometimes we've 
hurled cruel names at them. But as we walked away, with those brown eyes of hers she 
looked at me and it was as though she were recalling all of a lifetime . She said, 
"Raymond, it wasn't always easy." 

Why do some of us come back to a place like this? ~ because we want a realistic 

reading of life! and that realistic reading is that it isn't always easy, but, you 

can be more than a conquerer. Life doesn't have to do you in. Or, as I see the sign 
that Marge Kline put up out at Montgomery General Hospital, as she's conducting sessions 
for people who need to be encouraged, "I CAN COPE ... I CAN COPE ... I CAN COPE" 
That's what the Apostle Paul is saying to us: "We are more than conquerors. Nothing can 
separate us from the love of God ~ nothing, absolutely nothing." There's nothing boring 
about that, my friend. That's why some of us keep coming back to a place such as this — 
we need to be excited by a message through the echo of a soul who said, "I know ... I 
know ... I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ 

"What now shall we say to these things?" says the Apostle Paul as he looked out and 

saw the panorama of life — all that was ugly, untoward, unfortunate "We can be more 

than conquerors and nothing can separate us from the love of God." Paul, I envy you. 
Would to God I could say it with the same ultimate measure of conviction that you do! 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (7) 

He's far out in front of many of us — he's so blessedly sure! Some of us take him at 
his word, and wish that we could say it a bit stronger than we do. But I need to remind 
myself as I need to remind you, that when Paul talks about all of this being possible 
because of the love of God, he's not talking about his love for God, he's not talking 
about your love for God. He's talking about God's love for us . And that makes all the 
difference in the world. We can't fully trust our love for God. We can falter, we're 
stained by original sin. We can never love Him as we ought to love Him. And we may 
have our moments when we fall out in our love for God. Paul isn't talking about God's 
love for man which remains constant, and nothing can separate us from what God always 
wants to give us. That's the exciting thing that you hear within these walls. What do 
you suppose I have been trying to tell you for 28 years? You know that, don't you — 
it's God's love that remains. And nothing can separate us from that love, no matter 
how willful we may become. 

Wait a minute longer, I must tell you this. He was a reader of Joseph Forte Newton, 
a preacher in Philadelphia, then he had a distinguished career in City Temple in London. 
When he was here in the States he wrote a column for one of the Philadelphia papers. I 
remember so well one of the articles that he wrote. It's a vignette. In colonial Ameri- 
ca a band of Indians came, pillaged a villiage, and took some of the young boys captive. 
For some strange reason they didn't touch the mothers — the men and the boys. They did 
away with the men, but they kept the boys, so the story has it. The mothers went on liv- 
ing, hoping and praying that some day they might be united with their children. Years 

A Colonel of the Colonial Army came upon these Indians and recognized the differ- 
ence in the facial features, they were not all the same Indian tribe. As life had it, 
he discovered the village that had been attacked, and brought news to some of the women 
who were still living. The women were brought to the Indian camp. They were given the 
opportunity of trying to recognize their own son. Think of it now, the years have come 
and gone, changes have set in. How could you recognize at 18 or 22 the child who had 
been six, and you'd never seen him since that day? 

One mother went up and down the line, trying to identify her son, and just about to 
give up — she couldn't find any one that she thought was hers — and none recognized 
her, of course. And then it occurred to her . . . she asked for the privilege of going 
up and down the line and singing an old lullaby, old love song which she had sung to her 

" WITH GOD'S LOVE " (8) 

child as a baby. And as she sang that love song, that lullaby, one of them stepped for- 
ward and embraced her with tears. He recognized the song of love. 

That's the way it is with us, my friend, some of us come back to a place such as 
this to hear God's love song wooing us back, and telling us we can go on, that life 
doesn't keep us captive forever. Nothing boring about that, is there? You will remem- 
ber you heard it here, won't you? 

(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost Septojiiber 9, 1984 


CLEANSE US, GOD, by Your Holy Spirit, , /-'>. ^ 

that we may be made fit to think Your 

thoughts as we give sane attention to 

the interpretation of Your Holy Word. 

Through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, 

Who \A\en He came, came preaching. Amen , 

For the life of me I can't quite remonber the name of the show — it was one of 
those early television shews back in the 50' s. It had a detective in it... he wore a 
felt hat, if I remember correctly, and a double-breasted suit. And the line that I 
recall more than anything — "just the facts, ma'am, just the facts — nothing but 
the facts." I never cease to marvel at the number of people vdio want facts, but 
don't knew how to handle facts. There are any number of people who v±ien they get the 
facts, either misinterpret them, misconstrue them, or mis-perceive them. Let me give 
you an excellent case in point: the Gospel Lesson for the day. 

Whether you realize it or not, there are at least three shockers in that Gos- 
pel Lesson, and all of them as a matter of fact — a portrayal of Jesus Christ ^lich 
is so unlike Jesus Christ, but still as a matter of fact. Let me recall it for you. 
It's straight, seven verses right out of the 15th chapter of the Gospel according to 


...Jesias has crossed over now frcm Galilee, the border that 
leads into Syria, the coastal tewns of Tyre and Sidcn. Now 
for v^iatever reason that took Him there, that's v^ere He 

happens to be that's a fact. 

And v^le He's there He's encountered by a Canaanite wonan, 
a Syro-Phoenician wonan. That means that she was not of the 
Jewish faith. And as she encounters Jesus Christ she cries 
out to Him, she wants His attention, she has a great need. 
And the need is not her own but the need is for her daughter, 
according to Scripture, v/ho is "grievously vexed by a devil." 
Now get ready for three facts, each one shocking in turn. 

She yells, she shouts, she tries to get Jesiis' attention — 

and He answers her not a word. That's a fact. 

the second thing, ^en she continues to try to get His attention in her earnest 

desire to get her daughter healed. He says sctnething about not being sent except to 


the lost sheep of the house of Israel . That's a fact. It's a shocking fact! It 

cuts! It's not pleasant. It wasn't easy for her to hear it. unlike Jesus, this behavior pattern. He who had taken 
the initiative to go out of His way to do something good to 
somebody — you can't picture Jesus going down the street 
just waiting for people to come to Him, of course you can't! 
He was the kind of person who was always taking the initiative . 

Some 40 miles from the town where Winifred and I used to live there's a town in 
Columbia County called Benton, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of one of the most re- 
markable persons who's ever lived in recent years. That's where Frank Laubach, the 
father of the literacy method, was born. There are several things that you ought to 
know about Frank Laubach.... 

- - he wasn't simply given to "each one teach one" - - he 
didn't just subscribe to the fact that what good will it 
be if people are taught to read if they're not taught to 
read the right thing? - - and to that he threw himself with 
complete abandon. If we're going to be taught to read, then 
for God ' s sake , Frank Laubach maintained , be sure you read 
the right things . That ' s where he had a great concern for 

the Scriptures 

But what I want to tell you about him now, quite incidentally — and yet not too in- 
cidentally — he was the kind of a person who if he were seated in a bus or a train, 
or an airplane, he'd focus his attention on someone. He didn't take his eyes off 
of that person. And you know exactly what would happen, if you've ever experimented 
with that kind of thing - - eventually the person turns around and the pair of eyes 

meet and Laubach also established the "CIHYOU" method - "Can I Help You?" — 

taking the initiative. Always in this world there are people in need. Jesus was that 
kind of person. But now — would you believe it! — so unlike Jesus. 

Here is a woman screaming and yelling — say it again — anyone who's spent any 
time at all in the Middle East knows how people seeking pity can make a scene and a 
demonstration, and won't give up until they get some kind of attention paid to them. 
And Jesus gives her the shocker for the second time. In fact this Gospel Lesson has 
three shockers in it* 

— the first one was the silent treatment — "He answered her not a word" 

That's a fact. 

— and the second fact: "I'm not sent except to the children of Israel, 

the lost sheep" ... as much as to say, "I'm not obligated to 


to pay attention to you. My mission in life is the lost 
children of Israel, and you're not one of them." 
So unlike Jesus. But it's a fact! 

Then the third shocker. Jesus said something about "You don't take the chil- 
dren's bread and cast it to dogs." — that's a fact! Jesus said it! 
Three times, Jesus the shocker — the one of whom we usually think: gentle Jesus, 
meek, mild , compassionate , considerate — taking the initiative to pay attention to 
somebody - - giving this woman - - - the only reason she comes to Him is because 
she's a mother, and is concerned about her child. 

Let me say it again, I am deeply troubled by people who take facts and mis-construe 
them, mis-interpret them, mis-conceive them. There are people who have done that with 
this passage of Scripture. You can read in some commentaries that there are people who 
take the same set of facts that I've just given you, and said that Jesus crossed over 
the border into Syria because He was very tired. He was being harrassed by the Phari- 
sees, He wanted a respite. He was annoyed by the fact that He had done as much as He 
had done for the Children of Israel and was not getting a very good reception. There 
are those who say that this is a fact. He answered her not a word. He didn't pay atten- 
tion to her because He says to Himself, if the Jewish people haven't responded, why 
should I waste my time on her? So that's the way some people can handle a fact — 
mis-perceive it, mis-construe it. 

There are also people who say He was tired. He was weary. He wanted to get away 
from Galilee, He needed rest. And this woman screaming and yelling, came as an itti- 

It's a fact that He didn't answer her. 

It's a fact that He said what He did. 

It's a fact that He talked about casting crumbs to dogs — that's right. 
Do I have to beg you to give Jesus Christ credit for always being a gentleman? Do I 
have to take you to task for allowing this passage of Scripture to cause you undue 
trouble? Let me help you as best I can. It's a magnificent chapter, it's a tremendous 
interpretation of the way Jesus puts a person's faith to the test. 

You see, whenever you deal with facts you have to be careful how you interpret 
them, and give yourself time to come to what is essentially the bottom line — where 
does the matter essentially rest ? No matter what the road was that you traveled to 
get to a particular point, for God's sake don't lose yourself being overly concerned 
by the incidentals that have happened along the way. What really matters most is the 
way you record the data at the bottom line. And the bottom line in this case is: 


"O woman, be it unto thee even as thou wilt, 
for great is thy faith " - - and her daughter 
was made whole right then and there! 

Now, two things if you don't mind. 

One, Jesus Christ has a way of testing people. We're always being tested. 
You'd be surprised sometimes, whether wittingly or unwittingly, what we really are 
will surface as we encounter people. That's one of the values, you see, in allow- 
ing people to talk. Eventually you discover where they're coming from, and where 
they've been. Jesus by deliberate design gave her not only the silent treatment but 
the shocking treatment, in order for her to reveal her real self. No question about 

And one of the grand and glorious things to be said about this passage of Scrip- 
ture is that if you want to you can take it as a case study in the way a person ac- 
cepts one-self where one happens to be : 

— she was not of the Jewish faith. This she admitted, and accepted. 

— she had not had the benefit of all of the training that the 

other people had had that Jesus had encountered, not even 

the disciples 
It's a marvelous case study in a person willing to accept herself where she happens 
to be. 

And that's a problem for any niimber of us. For any number of us it's extremely 
difficult for us to accept ourselves as we are . That's the great task, you see, of 
the psychologists and the psychiatrists and the counsellors — to somehow set in 
front of us, in due process, the real image . But it does trouble me sometimes when 
we spend too much of our energies talking about sublimation, then, or self-analysis, 
or reality. There comes a point where one has to recognize a measure of dependence 
upon someone other than himself or herself, in order to become better than one has 
been, or is. And this is the marvelous contribution that religion has to offer you 
and me. The Christian faith is always introducing us to Jesus Christ, and eventually 
if we give ourselves time He looms upon the horizon in one way or another. And when 
He does come. He puts us to the test as to whether or not we're going to hold out long 
enough until we reach the point where we say "I surrender." And that's exactly what 
this woman did. She surrendered herself and all that she was into the hands of Jesus 
Christ — regardless of His delaying tactics, regardless of the struggle that had to 
be endured. She kept at it, until she said, "You win!" 

But she put up a struggle in the meantime. And she assumed a measure of responsi- 
bility for herself even as she accepted herself where she was.,/ Talk about eating crumbs? 
Talk to me that way, God - - tell me that's my station in life. But tell me I don't have 


to stay there, tell me I don't belong there." 

They used to tell the story about an evangelist in London who ministered in the 
slums, who chalked up one of the great moments in his life when he encountered the 
habitual drunkard, who looks up into the eyes of the padre and says, "Go ahead. 
Padre, tell me where I am — drunk, in the gutter — but for God's sake. Padre, tell 

me I don't have to stay there ! This Syro-Phoenician woman "Tell me, Jesus — 

I'm going to stick with it. I'm going to keep coming back at you! Try me, test me as 
you will." Sooner or later every person is responsible for the way they give evidence 
of their own basic integrity. That's the kind of time and that's the kind of treatment 
that Jesus was giving this woman. Can't you take heart from this, then, that we are 
made of that kind of stuff? — that we can be made equal even to the test to which 
Jesus Christ puts us? We don't have to cower, we don't have to wallow in self-pity. 
In the face of the struggle God made us with enough stuff that we can keep coming 
back, no matter how we think He delays. Now that's one thing you daren't forget in 
this magnificent chapter of Scripture. 

And the second thing is this: He had to stick with it, and she had to stick with 
it, until the data for the bottom line could be written. Jesus Christ doesn't reward 
us on the basis of little faith. You may read the Scripture repeatedly and you'll 
discover that His sublime compliment always goes to those to whom He can say, "Be it 
unto thee, for great is thy faith" - - and every now and then pays someone the supreme 
compliment and He says, "You can have what you want because yoxir faith is great enough." 
The trouble with any number of us is we have a faith, but it's only a little faith ~ 
it can take us only so far down the road, just like last Sunday's sermon, with Peter 
walking on the water. He just had enough faith to get him out there, to stand up. 
But he didn't have enough faith to keep him walking in the direction of Jesus Christ. 

Don't you remember the letter that I read for you some time ago from that woman 
who hasn't been able to come to Saint Luke Church for a number of years, and only last 
year, I think it was, she gathered enough strength to be here for the baptism of her 

grandchild a woman who finds every single hour of the day and night an ordeal. 

And in that letter that she wrote me she said, "Pastor, if it were not for the faith 
that I have ~ and it's great faith, I could not have endured. Pastor, tell your 
people that a little faith won't do it ! It has to be great faith." 

Now, you and I need to keep ourselves in the struggle. She didn't give up. The 
bottom line is, Jesus said, "You have great faith." Let me make it as simplistic as 
possible - - only great faith gets the complimentary reward! And keep before you that 
hope that it's possible. There's always the possibility of the great Amen. And that's 
how this passage of Scripture ends, with that triumphant Amen. 


Sir Arthur Sullivan put it for us one day - - 

"Seated one day at the organ, I was weary and ill at ease, 
And my fingers wandered idly over the noisy keys; 

I knew not what I was playing, or what I was dreaming then. 

But I struck a chord of music like the sound of a great Amen. 

It flooded the crimson twilight like the close of an angel's song. 
And it lay on my fevered spirit with a touch of an infinite calm. " 

That's the lesson that comes to us straight from this set of facts. Somewhere 
along the line there is the possibility for this woman of striking that magnificent 
chord that would end with a great Amen. "To give up pretentions," writes William 
James, "is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified." - - and that isn't only psy- 
chology, it's religion. There is a way of accepting what we are, and instead of sit- 
ting down on it, with all the xinlovely results of self-pity, you begin with it, and 
you're motivated by the possibility of a glorious Amen. It is not a matter of resig- 
nation. Life begins when it becomes a matter of surrender to Jesus Christ, no matter 
what the treatment may be in the meantime. 

Of the merchants' adventures of Elizabeth's day these inspired words were written; 

"They dared beyond their strength. 

They hazarded against their judgment; 
And in extremities they were of excellent hope." 

The saviors of this world today are those who go on in brave assurance that 
despite every evidence to the contrary, this is God's world. And He has a way of 
rewarding those who persevere with their faith. This I most certainly believe. 

(This sermon transcribed as recorded) 

Festival of the Reformation 
held By Lutheran Churches- in 

The Washington- Cathedral 

October 28, 1984 


Text: " And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He 
went to the synagogue, -as His custom was, on the Sabbath dag. 
And He stood up to read; and there was given to Him the book 
of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the 
place where it was written , 

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because 
He has- anointed me to preach good news to 
the poor. 

He has sent me to proclaim release to the 
eaptives^ and recovering of sight to the 
blind, to set at liberty those who are~op- 
pressed, to proclaim the acceptable year 
of the Lord. ' ~~ 

And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attenda nt, and 
sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixe d on 
Him. And He began to say to them, 'Today, this scripture has 
been fulfilled in your hearing.' . . " (Luke 4:16-21), 

Whether the townspeople of Nazareth realized it or not, the day was bound to 
come when Joseph-the-Carpenter's. son. would lay the tools-of-the-trade down for 
the last time and walk away from that Galilean village. But not for long. The 
day was also bound to come when He would return. And He did - - and with a differ- 
ence. He left a carpenter ~ He was a good carpenter — naturally, He'd known nothing 

else at 30 years of age, it had been His only job — and He had had a good teacher. 

Yes, say it again - - He left a carpenter — a good carpenter, but He returned a 
preacher - - a better preacher than a carpenter! 

At any rate that's the way the folks of Nazareth sized it up. You see, since the 

day He left Nazareth they had gotten some wind as to what He was up to ~ a preacher 

of some reputation — and they presumably filled the synagogue to over-flowing once 
the word had gotten around that He was back in town. 

Little wonder that the chief elder, or whatever the presiding minister would be 
called, should spot Him and give Him the honor of being the Lesson Reader ~ likewise 


affording Hitn an opportunitir to speak. And Jesus, Joseph 's: Son , one^time-carpenter- 
now-turned preacher seizes the moment. The preacher in Him takes over completely. 

And what does He do? He looks- at the world with the Bible in His hands — 
that's what every preacher is- meant to do. Say it again and often — the carpenter- 
turned-preacher was the Man with The Book in His hands! Allow that picture of Jesus 
to become firmly fixed in your mind. No picture of Jesus is ever complete unless He 
is related to the Scriptures. . 

It's a frequently overlooked page in the Bible - only Luke at that recorded the 
incident — that represents the launching of His ministry - - it was then and there 
that He declared in no uncertain manner who He knew Himself to be — what the world 
was like - - and what He intended to do about it J And all the while He was among 
them .... 

with a sword in His hand? No. 

with a spear i~n His- hand? No. 

with a hammer in His- hand? No. 

with nothing more than a bookl 

The Man - new revolutionary - debate in 1519.: 

"A council may sometimes err. Neither 
the Church nor the Pope can establish 
articles of Faith,. These must come 
from Scripture." 

Wrote a well-known news-magazine essayist a few short years back "There have 
been very few men who have ever lived who have altered the course of history. One 
of them was Jesus Christ. Another, Karl Marx. Still another, Martin Luther." 
And in each instance I can say to you — each significantly enough is remembered as 
"A Man With The Book." 

You can't possibly think of Jesus Christ aside from the Scriptures. You can't 
possibly think of Karl Marx aside from his "Das Kapital." Come to think of it, at 
many junction points in history it has been the-man-with-the-book who has been fol- 
lowed for good or ill. . . , 

— can you separate Adolph Hitler from his "Mein Kampf"? 

— Melanchton from his "Loci"? 

— Calvin from his "Institutes"? 

— Augustine from his "Confessions" or "City of God"? 

— Darwin from his "Origin of The Species"? 


— Martin Niemollejc -'-■ Bible in hand - calling out to 
the prisoners- from his; Dachaia cell? 

Novr, I say to you, think of Jesus of Nazareth without thinking of Him as He out- 
lined His life mission that day in the synagogue as anyone other than the Person With 
The Bookl And it was that Book — the Sacred Scriptures — that assured Him His iden- 
tity, provided Him a realistic view of the world, and prompted Him to act without 
delay as- God's agent for rectification and reconciliation — equating, what few have 
ever acconplished, the messenger with the message - - what none of us should ever 
fail to attempt. 

Now having spoken a good word about Jesus Christ with Book in Hand . . . permit 
me a few sentences regarding His 16th Century servant — a man named Luther — also 
a man with the Book. 

He had gone, you may remember, to Wittenberg University as professor of Biblical 
Studies. Given the corruption of the church in his day, it was. the most natural thing 
in the world that he would at one and at the same time became both intrigued and trou- 
bled by the scriptural accent upon righteousness. His attention was especially drawn 
to the Psalms and then most particularly to Paul's theme in Romans.: "For therein is 
the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just 
shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17) 

Now hear him speak for himself as he recalled those days: 

"Night and day I pondered, iintil I saw the connection 
between the justice of God and the statement that 'The 
just shall live by faith." Then I grasped that the 
justice of God is that righteousness by which, through 
grace and sheer mercy, God justifies us through faith. 
Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone 
through open doors into paradise." 

So Luther declared anew the doctrine of justification and the cornerstone of The 

Reformation was laid. But his sola fide would never have been possible without his 

sola scriptura . Therefore, he remains, "The Man With The Book." 

As he studied with much more-than-average diligence the Scriptures, his subsequent 
theology was definitely emerging. A summary could be offered in this manner: 

1. Man is a sinner by nature. The effects of original sin remain 
in him throughout all his life. 

2. Only grace, God's gift through Christ and the Holy Spirit, can 
drive out this sinfulness. 


3. Since grace is^ a free gift of God, it can never be 
earned '• only^ accepted. 

4. Grace comes-^ to us- through", faith - when we accept God's 
Word xinder the prompting of the Holy Spirit. 

5. Because faith and grace are free gifts^ of God, no 
Chris-tian has- grounds to Boas-t of His righteous works. 

6. Christians^, therefore, must be confident of their salva- 
tion, not Because of the works of man, but because of 
the works of God. 

Quite naturally that the Reformation movement became a movement of the Bible. 
^^ ?° time at all the relationship of tradition and scripture would loom largely 
upon the horizon. The reformers-, Luther in particular, had a high regard for the 
Church Fathers. But even the Church Fathers were to be measured by the Holy Scrip- 

Luther made his finest contribution as he firmly and surely turned the pages of 
the Good Book, Typical of his worth to the church is the way he ejxploded in the 
face of John Eck at Leipzig after an 18-day 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Twenty- third Sunday After Pentecost November 18, 1984 


GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God our 
Father and from His Son Jesus Christ, 
our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

Last Sunday at 8:30, when it came time to preach the sermon, I raised the ques- 
tion: Suppose it were within your power to have lived at another time, other than the 
age in which you now live - - what period would you have preferred? I went on to 
suggest that whatever it may have been with you, I would have chosen, I think, the 
time of the prophets, when certain people chosen by God would stand up and speak 
clearly and honestly, without any reluctance, and absolutely convinced that what they 
were saying was according to the burden of the Lord which God had placed upon them. 

When the 8:30 service was over, a member of the congregation said to me, as much 
as this -- "You may have chosen the prophets - - I would have chosen the time of Jesus." 
Well, far be it from me to have excluded Jesus from such a period, because He was the 
chief of the prophets, of course. But now I am about to tell you, had you said decided- 
ly that it would have been specifically the time of Jesus, I must tell you, it wouldn't 
have been a pleasant time for you. No matter how much you may love Him now, no matter 
how kindly disposed you may be toward Him, and you may permit yourself to believe that 
people felt just as you now do toward Him - - that was not true when He went around 
from place to place. 

As an example, I enjoy a luxury that I don't think Jesus very often enjoyed, and 
for the most part any preacher who stands at this sacred desk in Saint Luke Church 
could say the same thing - - eyery guest preacher we've ever had has been able to say, 
when the service is over, that you are responsive people, that you do listen atten- 
tively, that you do have a high regard for the Good Book. That wasn't always true for 

...there were times when He stood up to speak, when He was surrounded by people 
who were going to test Him at eyery single thought He advanced 

...there were people who when He was going to preach, would deliberately speak 

up -- interrupt Him, try to trip Him and to test Him 

That you may know whereof I speak, I have to recall for you now what Carin read for us -- 
I'll read only a portion of it, of the Gospel for today, the 22nd chapter of the Gos- 
pel according to Matthew: 


"... When the Pharisees had heard that he had put 
the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a 
question, tempting him . . . . " 

Get the picture? There they were, two groups of people, inevitably giving Jesus a 
rough time, ganging up on Him. When one would have their day, the other would with- 
draw. Then sometimes together they made an advance. Now Jesus had succeeded in 
quieting the one group, but that only gave the other group courage enough to try 
their hand at it. Can't you imagine, now, how they got together, and they said, 
"You do it this time I We'll put you in a position, we'll catch him now." 

"... But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the 
Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one 
of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting 
him, and saying. Master, which is the great commandment in the 
law? . . . " 

....foolish question, really. They knew the answer - - every single Jew knew the 
answer to that question. As soon as a Jew was able to memorize Scripture, as soon 
as he was taught any kind of Scripture, the answer to that question was what he 
memorized. And as a devout Jew, according to practice — twice each day he recited 

. . . Jesus answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the greatest and 
the most important commandment ..." 

( . . . "As though you didn't know," He could have said, 
"Why did you ask me? . . . ") 
And then He went on quickly — always giving us more than we bargain for. He said: 
" The second most Important commandment is like it: 
'Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two 
commandments hang all the law and the prophets." much as to say. Nothing is more important. 

I need to tell you that I've always had a bit of trouble with the way Jesus 
reminded them of what Scripture had said centuries before. Love as a commandment? 
That's not your understanding of love, is it? And as I relate to some of you in 
conversation, as I've observed your behavior pattern — can you command a person to 
love? Somewhere along the line we get the idea that we fall in love, that it hap- 
pens - - so we have nothing to do with it. There's either an element of chemistry 
or some kind of Identification, that all of a sudden it sets inl So contrary to the 
kind of thing that I discovered when I spent time in India, or certain other parts 


of the world, where marriages are arranged by the parents, where two people are 
told, and they meet - - "You're going to live together, you're going to marry 
each other." . . . nothing of this romantic bit that characterizes the rest of 
the world. And then once they're married - - now listen carefully - - they learn 
to love each other. 

Strange way of looking at it as far as we're concerned. But we pay a price 
for this business, you see, of allowing ourselves to think that we fall in love, 
because if we can fall in love, we just as easily allow ourselves to fall out of 
love. And that's a frightening thought. But if you go on the premise you fall 
in love, you can excuse yourself, then, and you reach an impasse and allow yourself 
to fall out of the relationship. 

Our Blessed Lord said — not giving them any options, not saying that you can 
think this over and if it appeals to you maybe you'll want to practice it. As suc- 
cinctly as possible, and as directly as possible. He says, "You shall love — love 
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and 
you shall love your neighbor as yourself." It's a divine directive. .. .and it causes 
some people a great deal of trouble when you stop to think about a command to love. 

I don't know that I'd rick it, I don't know that I'd say to two people, any two 
people that I might choose if I could experiment in this way, by saying, "Now I'm 
going to put you two people down in front of each other, and no matter what you 
bring to this thing, now, you've got to love one another .... I'm not going to 
let you out of the room until you love each other." - - - you can't compel people 
to lovel It's not a forcible relationship. Isn't that right? And yet Jesus said, 
"You shall love." 

There's another verse of Scripture that's brought me a great deal of comfort, 
it's enlightened me considerably. It's in the New Testament. It's phrased very 
simply - - "Keep yourself in the love of God." Now as soon as you begin to say 
" Keep yourself" — that implies effort, that implies your working at it, that implies 
some measure of diligence as well as devotion. Now you put the two together: when 
Jesus said, "You must love " - - - and " keep it that way." 

I'm always troubled when couples come to me and just blurt it out - - "We've 
fallen out of love" - - as though love were like water running through a spigot, 
and you're free to turn it on or off at will. From the Christian perspective, love 
is a free-flowing thing, constantly available, because of its need. 


The text for this sermon again: 

" Thou Shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy 
mind. This is the first and great commandment. 
And the second is like unto it, Thbilshalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself." 

No matter how you may react to what I've already told you, I want you to know 
very clearly that I'm terribly excited by what you're about to hear. As I continue 
to deal with this text I'm absolutely convinced that Jesus is making very plain to 
us that the potential lies within us to love. You heard me, didn't you — that down 
deep inside every one of us we are made to love, the potential is ours. I don't 
think Jesus Christ would require the impossible from any person. That's why He pro- 
vides us His Holy Spirit — to help us. 

I've developed a cherished friendship with a certsin person for whom I have 
profound regard and respect. When I needed most to hear it, she was the one that 
God chose, I think, to speak these words to me, when I was concerned about a parti- 
cular dilemma. She said to me, "You have no choicel" - - and upon reflection I knew 
exactly what she wanted me to understand - - "You must do what you're meant to do, 
and you must become what you're meant to become." And in a certain sense that's what 
Jesus is saying in this commandment — "you're meant to love, and I'm not going to give 
you a choice." God doesn't give us a choice to hate, God gives us a command to love. 
And I'm absolutely thrilled at the concept that it lies within every single one of us, 
the potential ±s^ ours, we can love, we can meet other people's needs.... we can be as 
Christ to other people - - because Christ is God's personification of love, the com- 
plete identification. 

Let me put it for you this way, you and I have been blessed with a tremendous 
love power. You and I are free to determine how and to whom this love power can take 
many forms, it can be the love of parents. As long as I live and as long as God gives 
me memory I'll breathe the name of my parents with nothing less than gratitude, that 
when I came into this world they had outstretched arms to love me . . . they were the 
first to teach me the meaning of love. 

This love power takes many forms. It can be the love of parents. It can be 
the love of brother or sister - - I was one of six. And as Winifred could tell you, 
different as the six of us have been, as day is from night - - there's a regard that 
we have for each other. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am that they love 
me as they do. And I know it I 


This love power - - we can express it in our love for God. We can know it 

in God's love for us. We can know it in the love that we have for our country, 

for mankind, the love that we have for an idea or an ideal the love that we 

have for a person of the same sex.... the love that we have for a person of the 

opposite sex. The Scripture that I have been reading for you repeatedly as I 

preach this sermon sets down the rule for our loving when it declares: 

"First you love God with all your heart, 
with all your soul, with all your mind - - and 
then you will be able to love your neighbor as 

Notice the deep psychological meaning of this declaration — first you direct your 

love toward God, no matter what form your love may take, and no matter what person 

may be the object, all of it ultimately reaches God. And only when an individual 

begins to love God wholly does he become a whole person. 

When I love God, I can't love Him in the abstract — you can't love God in 
the abstract, you can't love God in a vacuum - - - you can't separate God from 

people — God has put His likeness in you . . . .in you . . . .in you in me. When 

we love God we love wherever His likeness is to be found. My high regard for the 
Quakers remains because they more than any people I know keep saying, "Look for 
that which is of God in every person, and respond to every person as that person 
is an object of God's love. You look at me that way, won't you? — as a child of 
God, someone whom God loves. And that means you should love me that way too. 

Love's what makes the world go round, it's the breath of life. I wish you 
could see this — you can't possibly, of course, it's a reproduction of a photo- 
graph. I want to tell you a little bit about it before the sermon is concluded. 
Sometimes a dramatic picture can bring a sad picture into such sharp focus that 
it suddenly becomes colorful enough to grip our attention like a sunrise. The 
photograph on this page, that you can't see, is that kind of a picture. Three 
years ago in Jacksonville, Florida, an apprentice linesman, Randall Champion, ac- 
cidently touched a live wire, and 2400 volts surged through his body. The shock 
left him hanging from the safety belt, unconscious, and rapidly turning blue from 
lack of breath. A fellow apprentice, Jimmy Thompson, heard his cry from a nearby 
pole. He rushed to his aid, lowered his body into the right position, and admini- 
stered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Thompson's alertness and daring saved 

I ( " LOVE POWER" -6 

i ' 


Champion's life. A photographer came by at the right moment and got the whole 
sequence of events, which told the story dramatically. The dramatic picture high- 
lights an undramatic truth: no person stays alive in this world unless he is 
sustained by somebody else's love. Love is the breath of life. 

I place it almost on the same plane as Scripture, if you will be kind enough 
to let me do that. It's something that I read that I hope I'll never forget — 
that you and I, our personalities, our temperaments, our characters, are fashioned 

and shaped by people who love us or who may refuse to love us. Now you think 

about that for a while. 

(This sermon transcribed 
as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Third Sunday in Advent December 16, 198A 

(Romans 13:11-12) 

GRACE, Mercy and Peace from God 
our Father and from His Son Jesus 
Christ, our Blessed Lord. Amen. 

If it's a title you'd be wanting for this sermon, perhaps you'd settle for this 
one: " How To Live Meaningfully in the Meanwhile. " Now you'll have to listen as the 
sermon progresses as to why those words should have been so carefully chosen. 

Some of you are fully aware of the fact that each Sunday during the Advent-tide 
now as I've come to the sacred desk, I've invited your attention to the same text. 
Very early on it gripped my soul and I can't possibly ignore it as week by week we 
draw closer to Christmas. The text is the 13th verse of the first chapter of the let- 
ter that that tent-maker who went around from place to place doing his trade, but he 
had an obsession, that no matter where he went, no matter whose people's lives he 
touched, he had to do it from a God-perspective. He could never forget the people in 
Rome, so he wrote this letter to Rome . . . and the 13th chapter, the 11th and 12th 
verses read in this manner: 

" The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us 
therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us 
put on the armor of light." 

Now that's all that he said, but that is enough for the moment. 

Gilbert K. Chesterton has always been recognized as the wit that he was. He's 
supposed to have referred to an acquaintance of his by saying, 

"He seemed always to be coming from some place, but going nowhere." 

That description, no matter how apt for Chesterton's friend, is not a proper one for 

Christians. For Christians, of all people, are people who know where they have been, 

and are people who should know where they're heading. We are a people who are launched 

by the past, being propelled toward a future. This fact is evidenced, of course, that 

we are the people who have a Book with two parts to it — there's an old part and there's 

a new part. There's an Old Testament and there's a New Testament. In the old part we're 

always talking about what's already happened. In the new part we spend a great deal of 

our time and energy reading page after page with nothing less than a future look 

thinking in terms of that which is yet to come. 

Now some of you are fully aware of this, that I have a very strong feeling about 
this particular season of the year. Advent means more to me than I can possibly express 


in words. And I want so much for this particular aspect to have meaning for all of 
us. I do not come to it lightly this year. While I have an appreciation for all the 
seasons of the church year, I keep company with George Santayani, who said, "It's far 
better to develop an interest in the changing seasons than to fall hopelessly in love 
with Spring." 

My appreciation for Advent does not diminish in any way my recognition of the other 
seasons of the year — please do not sell me short in that regard. But I presume when 
I think in terms of Advent, I begin to take very seriously the prospect of Christmas. 
And when I think of Christmas I become more nostalgic at this time of the year than at 
any other time in my life. Christmas Present always reminds me of Christmases past. 
And as one who has always been a student of history, I can't possibly ignore what has 
been. And every time a brand new Christmas comes around I find myself looking back to 
the Christmases that have been - - and invariably I associate those Christmases with 
certain people who have been a force for good in my life. 

Some years back I made it a point to send personal messages to a limited number of 

people, and I still see how I wrote, poorly as I write, on each of those cards: 

"Because of you I can more easily believe 
that God is at work in this world today." 

A number of those people are no longer here — they have come, they have gone. They be- 
long to Christmases past. I look back and I remember when Advent comes, as I think of 
other Christmases. 

I've never been reluctant to be transparent to you when I stand among you. My life 
among you for twenty-eight years has been a open book. It's not easy for me to close 

chapters it's not easy for me to walk away and say it's over. But life can be like 

that. And fortunate indeed is that person who comes to admit to himself that he lives 
his life in chapters . . . and when one chapter is over, what do you do? By the grace 
of God you go on to write the next chapter! That's what Advent's all about. Advent 
says, "Look back and remember — He came! Look back and remember what God has already 
done!" . . . and those chapters are over. 

I have a high regard for my Jewish friends. I don't know of any particular group 
of people who prize the past more than they do. They're always reminding themselves 

that 'We are the Children of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob' the patriarchs who once 

were! And on the night of Passover, the head of the household who conducts the ritual 
raises the question: Vlhat is the meaning of this night ? Why is this night different 
from any other night? and then he expects one of his own children to speak up. 


because he's rooted and grounded them in history . . . and it's at that moment that one 
of his children will recite what he has taught them: about the past, about the God who 
had been active in their past. Advent forces me to wax nostalgic, Advent forces me to 
look back — to all that was prophecised and to all that did take place by those who 
lived then and there . . . and all who have been a part of my Christmases past. 

But it's never enough for a Christian just to look to the past. You can't do that. 

Life doesn't stop. When they asked Robert Frost, 'HvTiat has life taught you?" the 

wise old man said, "I can tell it to you simply: life goes on!" There is the past, but 
there is also the future. And that's what Advent also means. We are a people who have 
a past ~ for which v/e're grateful. We are a people of a future , which makes us hopeful. 
I have no problem with that. But it does take a bit of doing, I'll admit, to get me to 
deal adequately with the present moment. That past is over; the present has not yet 
come. But today is at hand! How to deal with it meaningfully? How to discharge one's 
obligation in a responsible way — today ? "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." 

Unless life has treated me ill, I look forward to each morning, and I'm a morning 
person . . . and I like sometimes to get up before the break of the day. It's a salutary 
thing to see the darkness dispelled and to see a new day dawn. And by the same token, 
when I can do it — which isn't very often -- I hie away to some place where I can sit 
quietly when the darkness settles in. Sometimes I cherish the moment when I can steal 
home and go upstairs in the bedroom and sit in the rocking chair and look out the window 

and see the v7orld get darker and darker and darker, and the shades of light disappear, 

and have deep thoughts: it's over. The day has come it's gone! 

. . . but I can never allow myself to go to bed at night and say, 
that's it! The Christian says, "The night is far spent" — that's 
right — but, "the day is at hand." 

I've checked this translation out for you in a number of different Bibles, at least 

seven different translations. It's an interesting perspective that you get when you 

read it in the way different translators have dealt with it. After I've done all of 

that I've come up with my own free, reckless, daring translation. In today's modern 

jargon it might read like this — let me try it on you for size. Let's go back to the 

King James: " The night is far spent, the day/ is at hand. L et us therefore 
cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of 
light . . . " 

My reckless modern jargon would have me say: 

"What's over is over! The past has run its course. Yesterday 
has come and today has come, and it's almost gone. But tomor- 
row? It's upon us! The future is at hand! — it's inevitable. 
So in the meantime , let's settle in, and act responsibly, with 
integrity, to do what we're meant to do, to be what we're meant 


Oh, I give that to you on good authority, you see, that's what the Apostle Paul 
said after that text I read for you. He goes on to say then, 

" In the face of a world that's going to come to an end , 
what kind of people ought we to be? " 

and he had only one conclusion: God's kind of people , and to act responsibly in the 

present moment. How to live meaningfully meanwhile — between the past and the future? 
Now the lesson of this text freely, boldly, recklessly translated in this way... I '11 
have to admit I have not easily mastered, nor I dare say you may easily master, because 
many of us just don't know how to live, then, in the present moment. We may say to our- 
selves, the past is over; we may say to ourselves, the future has not yet come - - but 
here we are , with what's in front of us. And we have extreme difficulty in handling the 
present moment. 

We could find ourselves somewhat in the situation in which Col. John Glenn found 
himself. You remember, the first to soar to outer space. You remember his "Friendship 
Seven." As you might expect, they have films accompanied by narration of his flight 
aboard Friendship Seven, perhaps you have heard the voice that speaks in this manner, 
"Col. Glenn is now on his journey toward the night of tomorrow and the dawn of yester- 
day." The narrator, of course, is making reference to Glenn's passage through three 
days of sunrise and sunset in four hours of earth time. So it could be that way for us, 
we're launched backxjard and yet we move forward. Is the past we're trying to get caught 
up with, or concentration that we make upon the future, so that all the time the present 
moment, vjhich is upon us, may not be unrecognized but could be seen for what it is, and 
the challenge that it brings. 

Let me say it again, it's good to look back to the past. I'm a student of history, 
and I'm so profoundly grateful that I try to see things through the historical perspec- 
tive. But you can't imprison yourself in the past, and you can't be a dreamer and think 
only of that which is yet to come as reality without any substance. How do we phrase 
that then? We used to say, "He who came will come again" — that's right! The past, 

and the future. But let me give you a better way of thinking of that then put it 

in the present tense. Advent means coming. Instead of saying, "He who came will come" 
~ say, "He who came will come ~ and comes!" The future is being written now. Tomorrow 
is being shaped by today, even as yesterday leaves its stamp upon the present moment. So 
therefore \ie are meant to live meaningfully in the meanwhile. 

I know that there are some people who look back and think the better days have come 
and gone, that they were the "good old days." And they're not so sure about the future. 


And let me tell you this: we are always in God's hand, whether we're the children of the 
past, or the children of the future. We're always in God's hand, whether with our be- 
lief or our unbelief. The victory of life is to be found in acting responsibly in the 
present moment. 

I usually read Coleman McCarthy as his articles appear in the local newspaper. I've 
had correspondence with him, he's a devout Roman Catholic, spiritually sensitive, and 
socially sensitive to the issues of our day. It may be of some source of information to 
you that some of the devotional material that we've used in Saint Luke Church he's used 
when he puts his children to bed at night. One of the articles that he wrote several 
years ago had to deal with that grand old man of Judaism. Perhaps I shouldn't say so 
old, he died only when he was at 68 years of age — Rabbi Abraham Pescal, a marvelous 
spirit, respected by all people, whatever their race or religion. McCarthy tells what 
Pescal used to tell as a matter of legend: 

Once upon a time, somewhere on the face of the earth, there was a tiny 
kingdom. And when the people in that tiny kingdom harvested their crops, 
brought the grain and they put it in their storehouse, one day they dis- 
covered when they went to use it, that practically all of it was poisoned. 
And experience had proven that those who had eaten it, the poison grain, 
had become insane. Now what were they to do? You couldn't possibly go on 
living unless you ate something. In order to live, no matter how it may 
end up, you still had to eat in order to live. There were those who just 
didn't want to die, so they'd eat anything in order to live. In order to 
life they had to eat something. 

So, well the king in the kingdom issued a decree. Of the poisoned 
grain, those who felt they had to eat of it — go ahead! Let them eat. 
But, said the king, in this kingdom there must be a select number of people, 
carefully chosen, who must scrounge around and find a source of food, limited 
as it might be, that could be eaten with safety - - - limited as that supply 
might be. The decree was that they were not to eat of the poisoned grain. 
They were to find somewhere on the face of this earth some food that could 
be consumed safely. For, said the king, there must be left in my kingdom, if 
only a handful, a group of people to remind the rest of us that we're insane.... 

Which is simply to suggest to you this morning, my friend, in a world that's being 
branded mad, that doesn't know how to live today , that doesn't know how to endure the 
demands and the challenge of the present moment, let there be found Christians such as 
you, who watch your diet, who eat the right and proper spiiritual food - - so that in 

the present moment I cannot say it better — you can be what you're meant to be, 

you can do what you're meant to do, by the grace of God. This I do believe. 

Sermon - Pastor Raymond Shaheen 

The Fourth Sunday in Advent December 23, 1984 


QUIET our minds and hush our hearts, 
God, and make us still. Perchance 
we may hear some echo of the Eternal 
Voice that comes down through the 
corridor of time, even now and in 
this place. Amen. 

Each of these Sundays during Advent I have been asking you to consider the same 
text that's gripped my soul repeatedly. It happens to have been written by a tent- 
mender whose soul was on fire with Jesus Christ, so that no matter where he went, he 
tried to look at the world through the eyes of God. 

He kept in touch with congregations that he established, congregations that meant 
a great deal to him . . . 

— if they had a crisis, he'd address that crisis.... 

— if they needed encouragement , he ' d give them encouragement .... 

— if they had to have their consciences pricked, he could do that.... 

— if he had to take people to task, he didn't hesitate — . 

— if it was a place he'd like to visit, he'd write them a letter 

and tell them he hoped some day to come there.... 

This text that's gripped my mind, as you know if you have been here each of the Sundays 
before, is in the 13th chapter of the letter that he wrote to Christians who lived in 

He was very much aware of the fact that the world was not as it ought to be, that 
darkness had settled in. I suppose you could say that it looked to him as though the 
world was going to hell, and hurriedly so. He was not an optimist in this regard as he 
looked at the world horizontally. In fact, that first verse of the three in that 13th 
chapter of Romans begins, "The night is far spent." It's the kind of thing that Walter 
captured for us as he began that first stanza of this very fine piece of music — a 
world with dismal, grievous weights ... no matter where Paul looked, it was dismal. 
But being the kind of person that he was, he honestly believed that he would not have 

to live in a world as most of the people live in the world that since his life was 

touched by Jesus Christ, it was possible for him to be as Jesus Christ. 

No matter how much people may be demonically possessed, no matter how many people 
might serve the devil, as far as the Apostle Paul was concerned. Christians had no 
choice — they were to respond to anything and everything around them according to the 
mind and spirit of Jesus Christ. And for some of us who each day find that that's the 
requirement that God puts in front of us, I for one can tell you it takes a bit of doing takes a bit of doing to reflect the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ. 


Every now and then we're surrounded by people who bring out the worst in us. And 
even when that occurs, if we're to be worthy of the name of Christian, we have to res- 
pond with nothing less than the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ. Now let me read all 
three of these verses for you — it's the last verse that has claimed my soul today in 
a way that the preceding verses have not done so: 

" The night is far spent, but the day is at hand. Let 
us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let 
us put on the armor of light ... " 

Now that's — a free translation would be: 

— we don't have to be done in, and 

— we don't have to treat people the way they treat us, and 

— we don't have to be as people without hope.... 

— we don't have to be as the children of evil 

— we can be strengthened by light, the light of love 

and the light of truth 

" Let us therefore walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting, 
not in drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in 
strife and envy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lust thereof. " 

Now what Paul is really saying to us, as I understand it, is this: you can be in a 
world that doesn't encourage you to be — you can be as Jesus Christ. But if that's to 
happen, it has to be done deliberately, and earnestly. You just don't treat people 
Christ-like automatically. 

I have no right to stand in front of you if I can't make this sermon relevant, 
and from time to time I try to share with you some very simple homespun illustrations. 
Let me be as simple as I can possibly be: " Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" figura- 
tively speaking, as though Jesus Christ were a garment, an item of clothing. My waking 
thoughts were of this text this morning (that shouldn't surprise you). . . , I've tried 
to root and ground myself in this passage of Scripture for weeks. And as I was dressing 
this morning — "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ" — it occurred to me, every single 

item of clothing that I put on, I had to reach for deliberately I had to go to where 

it was, and then very earnestly I had to put it on. Nobody dressed me this morning. I 
dressed myself. Deliberately, earnestly, I did that. I chose what I was going to wear, 
I made a decision. I didn't have to wear these vestments this morning, but I am in a 
position to tell you that each Lord's Day when I wear a particular set of vestments, I 
choose them. The choice may be the same Sunday after Sunday, but deliberately and ear- 
nestly I choose. 


My brothers in the Roman Catholic Church, you may not be aware of this — they have 
a prayer that they offer each time they put on their vestments. I have had the good 
fortune to officiate in some Roman Catholic churches and I've seen the prayer that they 
pray . . . they even recite Scripture as they wash their hands before they touch their 

— I reach for this cassock, the long flowing purple garment... 

— I reach for this white surplice. . . 

— I reach for this stole. . . . 

I helped a minister yesterday conduct a funeral service. When he put the stole on, he 
kissed it as a sign of respect and affection, because this stole for which he reached 
earnestly symbolizes the yoke of Christ! VJhoever stands at the sacred desk this morning 
as I am standing before you, even as I'm standing now at this particular moment, I am 
yoked to Christ, I am Christ's servant - - I am in duty bound to speak to you according 
to the mind and spirit of Jesus Christ. That's why you must pray for me constantly, 
that I may not fail my Lord, that I may not fail you. It's an awesome thing. 

What have I told you in this very simple way? When you put on something, you take 
it, and it becomes part of your identification. Some of us have wrestled with the very 
casual way we give ourselves in the clothing that we wear. Some of us are of the old 
school, that we have a way of behaving according to the clothing that we wear. Don't 

make too much of that, but make as much of it as you ought 

"Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ - - " 
...Take Him to yourself, and let that become part of your identification. 

I hope to the day you die that you can't possibly think of my identification aside 
from what I am wearing as I stand before you now. I am awed by that thought. And it's 
an exceedingly precious moment in the life of the person who prepares for the Gospel 
ministry when at the time of his ordination, or her ordination, that the person receives 
for the first time the stole — yoked to Christ, to be identified with Christ. 

Now having told you all of that, be very patient with me because I am going to be 
very personal now. I don't know how well some of you know my Winifred, my partner in 
the work of the Lord for more than four decades: modest, demure, salt of the earth. 
When she and I read the Christmas greetings that come to us now, some of them come from 
people that we have known for more than forty years. And as we read some of those greet- 
ings - - as I told you last Sunday, it's at this season of the year when we wax nostal- 
gic - - now listen, listen very earnestly, will you, please? Some of those greetings 
come to us from people that we identified with the Baltic states. For shame upon you 
if you've forgotten their miserable plight Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia. We had peo- 
ple from all three of those Baltic States living with us at one time, when we lived in 


another parsonage. Winifred had gone with me in 1949 to Europe and had seen some of 
the devastation. Then shortly thereafter — well, let me recite it for you: 

— first there was Ernestine Krastin , a Latvian, I suppose she was 
about 60 years of age, who was literally deposited on our doorstep. 
The people who had sponsored her as a refugee or as a misplaced per- 
son, didn't quite know what to do with her. So they left her with us.... 
Ernestine came to us out of a world of hatred and hostility, out of a 
Europe whose cities were sacked and destroyed, whose people were killed 
and murdered and raped. Out of that world Ernestine came to us.... 

My Winifred, what did she do? - - she put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and treated 
Ernestine the way Jesus Christ would treat her, and took her into our home. 

— There was Alexander Kurilenko , Russian-born, who had lived in 
Estonia. Now you'd better get this one: someone once came in where 
he was and said, "Now!" — one word. He got up and left, never 
again to see the people with whom he was associated, not being able 
to go home and pick up anything that was precious to him. He was a 
marked man by the Communists. He fled for his life. From that very 
moment, when the word was spoken: "Now!" — he came and lived with us. 
Out of that kind of a world! 

I'Jhat did my Winifred do? - - she put on the Lord Jesus Christ and took him, and his 
wife, and his mother-in-law to stay with us. 

— Jonas Eduardus Gervitis Semitis — a teenage Lithuanian, whose father 
was put to death in a concentration camp - - he came to us, out of that 
kind of a world! — no gra3mess, but of darkness. 

l\fhat did my Winifred do? - - she put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and she took him in. 

— One of the Christmas greetings we'll get tomorrow, like as not, 
from Dobbs Ferry, New York — Hilmar Leytma — also Estonian, a dis- 
tinguished cardiologist, ... .he came to us as a teenager, a displaced 

What did my Winifred do? - - she put on the Lord Jesus Christ and identified and treated 
him the way Jesus Christ would treat him. 

I came home from the hospital one day and I said, 

"Winifred, she's dying — she won't last the day — and what do 

you suppose she said to me? 'Pastor, take care of my boys.' 

She had two of them, not yet teenagers. 
What did my Winifred do? - - she put on the Lord Jesus Christ, identified as Christ, 


and she took them in. One of them is a pastor in New York City, and the other a YMCA 

Not all of them would have turned out well. That's beside the point. The point 
is this: you talk about the Eve of Advent, you talk about Jesus Christ coming? I 
don't care how many carols you sing, I don't care how many greetings you send, I don't 
care how many presents you buy . . . and for the moment I don't much care how often you 
come to church. But with all the strength that my soul can command I can say this to 
you, if you do not take on the Lord Jesus Christ — deliberately and earnestly — and 
identify with Him, and have Him identify with you. Said Martin Luther, if you want to 
know that the birth of Christ is effective in you, then see how much you take to your 
heart the need of your brother. 

Put on the Lord Jesus — identify with Him. If you don't, then as far as you are 
concerned and I am concerned. He hasn't really come! Now you think about that for a 

* * * * 

(transcribed as recorded) 

Sermon - Pastor Rajnnond Shaheen 

The First Sunday After Christmas December 30, 1984 


(Matthew 2:11) 

GOD, we do so little of this sort 
of thing, give some measure of un- 
divided attention to the interpre- 
tation of Your truth. That we 
should make the most of it now, en- 
lighten us by Your Holy Spirit, 
through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our 
Lord, who when He came, came preach- 
ing . Amen . 

There are two parts to the Christmas story. You may not have realized that. Most 
of us concentrate on one part and one part only. If it's a title for this sermon that 
you will be needing, let me suggest " The Other Part of The Christmas Story." Essential- 
ly, it's the sermon that I didn't have nerve to preach on the night that marked the Holy 
Nativity. For when you came, you see, you were thinking in terms of this verse of Scrip- 
ture, recorded in the second chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew as the 11th verse: 

" And when they were come into the house, 
they saw the young child, with Mary his 
mother, and fell down and worshiped him. 
And when they had opened their treasures, 
they presented unto him gifts, gold, and 
frankincense and myrrh." 

Wonderful, you say. That's exactly the way it should have been.... 

— God saw fit to come to earth — uniquely 

— God saw fit to come as love, perfect and complete love 

— God saw fit to come Himself — personally. 
That's the meaning of Christmas. 

That itinerant tent-mender, when he wrote about it, was so overcome that he gave 
the perfect expression regarding it when he said — thinking of Jesus Christ: 

" In him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell" 
This is the last word, there's nothing better — you have it now and it's in front of 
you. That's part of the Christmas story — the essential part of the Christmas story. 

And equally pleasing, of course, is that there were those who were able to respond 
as they ought to respond.... 

— there were shepherds who, when they got the word of it, 
said, "Well, we'll go see — we'll respond!" 

— Mary and Joseph, when they were informed, they responded — 
favorably. . . . 

— wise men, who traveled a great distance, kept following the Star, 


they never gave up. They responded — exceptionally well! 
That's marvelous. That's the Christmas story: God comes — people responding — happy.. 
...glad - - but that's only part of the story. 

When you came on Christmas Eve, you came exactly in the way that John Milton the 
poet had romanticized it. I am not selling him short, we need poets. And we need to 
look at things through the eyes of the poet. He wrote these lines in his hymn on the 
morning of Christ's nativity a way of thinking of the Holy Night: 

"....No war, or battle's sound. 
Was heard the world around; 

The idle spear and shield were high uphung; 
The hooked chariot stood 
Unstained with hostile blood; 

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng; 
And kings sat still with awful eye. 
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 
But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of Light 

His reign of peace upon the earth began ..." 

Now that's precisely the way you and I wanted to feel on the night that marked the Holy 

Nativity "Silent night, Holy night ... all is peaceful, all is calm . . " But it 

wasn't. For any number of people, for most of the people that night was just like any 
other night. Men loved men labored men lusted men bought, men sold men gam- 
bled — they won, they lost just like any other night. The fact is, aside from how 

we see it, there was no special quietness that night for everyone. The world went on 
its noisy way as usual, quite unconscious and careless of what was happening in Bethle- 

Was Herod really sitting still that night? — overcome with awe? Not a bit of it! 
He was following his usual habits and pastimes, with little regard whatsoever for the 
wonderful thing that was coming to pass except to be troubled, and trying to figure out 
how he could have done with it. 

The first part of the Christmas story is caught up sublimely in this text. Let me 

read it for you again. It's important that you get this sequence: 

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the 
young child with Mary his mother and fell down and 
worshiped him. And when they opened their treasures 
they presented him gifts, gold, and frankincense and 
myrrh." - - 

Wonderful! That's exactly the way it should have been and for a limited number of 

people it was that way! But there's a verse of Scripture that follows very quickly. 

There is such a thing as the 12th verse of the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. 

And it reads in this manner: 


"... And being warned of God in a dream that they 
should not return to Herod, they departed Into their 
own country another way ..." 

That's the other chapter, that's the other part of the Christinas story — evil was rais- 
ing its ugly head. In the world in which Jesus Christ comes there also lives a wicked 
King Herod. 

Essentially, it meant a change in travel plans for these people who had come seek- 
ing the Savior. Now for the moment, let's digress, but not too instantly. Anyone who 
has done any amount of traveling knows what it is to be told you'll have to change your 
plans. When Maril3m Ammon would book some of us for a trip, she would come with all the 
pleasantness that becomes Marilyn and say, "I've had you ticketed now. I'm quite sure 
this is scheduled the way it ought to be. I've tried to anticipate what could happen — 
here are your tickets. You ought to get all the way through safely, and back." 

...but she's had enough experience to know that she has to permit herself a margin 
for something that might not be as perfect as that. And we discovered it, you see. On 
any number of trips we've taken we've had to be re-scheduled, or there's been a delay — 
or we have been re-routed. It costs time, it costs money, we become frustrated. But it 
may be absolutely essential if we are to arrive at the point where we're meant to arrive. 

Now, to all intents and purposes this verse of Scripture: God warning these people, 
"You have got to go back a different way, there's a change in 

travel plans." - - - dare I speak recklessly - - - even God 
on occasion has to change His plans. Even God on occasion has 
to tell you, 

"I've come up with something else for you that you 
have to consider. You may not have counted on it, 
but I'm in duty bound to tell you that this is what 
is going to happen at this moment ..." 
...a change in plans. 

Now I'm not overly concerned about the fact that there was a change in plans. You 
can't read that verse of Scripture other than that. They went back to their country a^ 
different way . Specifically — a change in travel plans. But that isn't what concerns 
me primarily. It's the fact that what it was that caused those plans to be changed. 
What caused those plans to be changed was the fact that evil is in this world. The same 
world in which we find Jesus Christ is a world in which we find the wicked King Herod — 
who gave the orders that every male child under two years of age should be slaughtered! 
Can you think of anything as diabolical as that? Now that's the other side of the 
Christmas story. 


I don't know when it was that I first began to wrestle with the fact of evil. 
There was a time in my life when I never much thought about it. Really I didn't. As 
any number of you people who have come to know me across the years, I try always to 
concentrate on looking for that which is good, I try not to sensitize myself to the fact 
of evil. And on occasion I regret very much that that happens to be part of my make-up, 
because I have been caught by surprise, and I haven't been made equal to the situation 
at hand because I was either ignoring the fact of evil, or was insensitive to its exis- 

You know how highly I've regarded my parents. So frequently I've referred to my 
parents. To the day I die I'll have nothing less than gratitude in my heart for what 
they gave me. My mother had a winsome personality, she was always loving people, she 
was always doing good to people, she was always being kind to people. My father was a 
very good man, and a very honest man. You'll permit me to tell you this, please - - 
there was a college president who wrote me once and said, "I've just talked with a man 
who knew your father, and he said of your father, he was the most honest man he ever 
met." That makes me want to stand taller. That makes me want to be better than I am. 
But I'm telling you this because there's one thing — good and honest and wonderful as 
they were - - - that I wish they would have done for me, that for some reason not known 
to me they sent me out into the world quite unprepared for the fact that I'd have to 
encounter evil. They didn't take time to brace me, and to prepare me, that eventually 
I would encounter Satan - - or I'd have to deal with Satanic influences. It's only been 
in the latter part of my life that I've become increasingly conscious of the fact of 
evil. It's only been in recent years that I've admitted to myself that to ignore evil, 
one does so at great risk and peril. It needs to be called by its rightful name, it 
needs to be seen for what it is. 

Theodore Parker Ferris was for a number of years the distinguished preacher of Holy 
Trinity Church in Boston. Somewhere I jotted down what he said on this very same line: 
"This is the Christian insight, that there is a devil somewhere in 
the picture. He is often called Satan. It really doesn't make 
very much difference what we call him, or how we picture him — 
with or without horn, hooves or fork. The point is that there 
seems to be in the world an evil streak that is over and above 
anything that man is responsible for. There seem to be powers 
of evil that get men in their grip and will not let them go. 
Jesus talked and acted as though He believed this. He himself 


wrestled with Satan, in the wilderness, in the beginning 
of His ministry. And He often spoke about the kingdom 
over which Satan ruled ..." 
It's been a source of great comfort to me to go back and remember, as I read the Scrip- 
ture, that evil is dealt with, evil is recognized, evil is called by its rightful name. 
It's been a source of comfort for me to discover that when Jesus Christ talked about 
evil He didn't spend a great amount of His time trying to explain it as to its origin... 
...He accepted the fact that it existed, and that it could not be ignored. 

In this verse of Scripture that constitutes the basis for this sermon this morning, 
God recognizes evil times. There is a wicked King Herod! He's very, very much alive. 
He's possessed by the devil. That's the first thing that God does. He says, There is 
such a thing as evil, I do not ignore it, I do not pretend that it's not there. 

The second thing He suggests, if I read the mind of God aright, as best I try to 
understand the mind of God within human limitation - - He's giving us to understand that 
we on our own cannot defeat evil. Now that's not very comforting news. I myself, on my 
own , cannot defeat or eradicate evil. It's pernicious! It's insidious! It exists! 
And it goes to the very depth of a person's soul. 

So what does God do? He says to His friends, "You'll have to circumvent it, you'll 
have to work around it - - you'll have to outwit it!" And that's precisely what happen- 
ed: they outwitted Herod. They went back to their own country by a different route. 

Now, I'm encouraging you, my friend, my brother and my sister in Christ, to recog- 
nize the fact that while Christianity is essentially an optimistic religion, it is pes- 
simistic to this extent - - that it sees that men can be devils if they choose to be. 
Unless you see that, you will not see, because you will not need, the tremendous release 
that comes through Jesus Christ. I don't want you to be morbidly obsessed by the fact 
of the devil. I am in duty bound to warn you to be alert to the fact that he exists. 
But as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am in a position to tell you that God 
is always greater . . . and under the influence of the Holy Spirit we can stand up to 
the evil. And thanks be to God, and to the victory that has come through His Son who 
came into the world to save us from our sins - - evil, powerful as it is, remains only 
the second most powerful force. And that's a happy/ thought . 

* * * 

(Transcribed as recorded)